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Open Access Siddi Street Theatre and Dance in North Karnataka, South India

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Siddi Street Theatre and Dance in North Karnataka, South India

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The Karnataka African Indians (Siddis, Habshis and Cafrees), drawing on both Indian performing arts and their African heritage, use dance and street theatre for political action, entertainment, social critique and self-expression. This paper focuses on Siddi dance and theatre in Uttara Kannada (North Karnataka), South India. Karnataka Siddis number about twenty thousand (Prasad, 2005). Using dramatic aesthetics, performers portray farming, hunting, child labour, violence against women and domestic work motifs to articulate Siddi grundnorms (foundational norms). I address how some Siddi dances and street theatre parallel and yet may differ from other performing arts in South India. Further, the paper complicates the current discourse on how diasporic African communities use the performing arts. My paper goes beyond the Atlantic Diaspora model. It examines ways in which Siddis of South Asia use their dance and theatre to express multiple domains of cultural art forms alongside the everyday use of such performances including a counter-hegemonic stance.

Affiliations: 1: Wellesley College and Harvard University, Email: obeng@fas.harvard.edu

The Karnataka African Indians (Siddis, Habshis and Cafrees), drawing on both Indian performing arts and their African heritage, use dance and street theatre for political action, entertainment, social critique and self-expression. This paper focuses on Siddi dance and theatre in Uttara Kannada (North Karnataka), South India. Karnataka Siddis number about twenty thousand (Prasad, 2005). Using dramatic aesthetics, performers portray farming, hunting, child labour, violence against women and domestic work motifs to articulate Siddi grundnorms (foundational norms). I address how some Siddi dances and street theatre parallel and yet may differ from other performing arts in South India. Further, the paper complicates the current discourse on how diasporic African communities use the performing arts. My paper goes beyond the Atlantic Diaspora model. It examines ways in which Siddis of South Asia use their dance and theatre to express multiple domains of cultural art forms alongside the everyday use of such performances including a counter-hegemonic stance.

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/content/journals/10.1163/187254611x566080
2011-01-01
2016-12-02

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