SOAS University of London

Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS)

Orature, Literature and History: Exploring Northern Indian Popular Culture (19c-20c) - PART 1


Date: 29 May 2018Time: 3:00 PM

Finishes: 29 May 2018Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B101

Type of Event: Workshop

29-31 May 2018, SOAS (ERC Mulosige project)

bidesiya - CCLPS - IMG 485 186 56

In this week-long course, Prof Catherine Servan-Schreiber (CEIAS, Paris) and Camille Buat (Sciences Po, Paris and University of Göttingen) will explore the living traditions in the Bhojpuri language of Northern India. They will share their methodologies for studying the circulation of Bhojpuri texts, singers, and labourers. Exploring the interface between literature and history, they propose to look at the texts simultaneously as objects and sources for historical study.

How does awareness of contemporary orature change the way we approach historical texts? How can we use these texts as sources to write a history of the region which produced them? How can we use narrative patterns to compare distant forms of orature? And how can we make orature seriously part of the study of world literature?

Part I. Texts on the Move. The production and consumption of chapbooks: wandering singers, peddlers and circulating labour in North India.

In this session Catherine Servan-Schreiber and Camille Buat will explore several patterns of mobility in North India by connecting the circulation of wandering singers and itinerant labour to that of popular literary texts. They will underline the history of each text, its ‘production’ – recorded by folklorists, commercial printing, cassettes and now YouTube videos – and the constant interaction between oral and written forms. From collecting archives during fieldwork to exploring narrative patterns, they will show how they collaborate in writing both a regional history and a history of regional literature. They will also draw parallels with the way historians of early modern period like Robert Darnton and Roger Chartier have used popular literature to write history.