SOAS University of London

Centre for Gender Studies

Dance Floor Divas: Fieldwork, Fabulation, and Fathoming in Queer Bangalore

Kareem Khubchandani (Tufts University), Rahul Rao (SOAS)

Date: 14 November 2019Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 14 November 2019Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre (KLT)

Type of Event: Lecture

Tracing the researcher’s encounters on and off the dance floor during fieldwork on queer nightlife in Bangalore, this presentation argues for the usefulness of ethnography as a critical method for studying fun, play, and pleasure in South Asia. Improvisational dance styles like Voguing, Filmi Dance, Koothu, and Bhangra travel across nightclubs, group rehearsals, Pride festivals, YouTube, and film screens, and live in proximity to and continuity with other realms of politics: migration, caste, race, labor, and the domestic. The author argues that ethnography’s many modes (co-performance, interview, observation, auto-ethnography) evidence how expressive practices integrate into multiple strata of everyday life and political-economy, and how these cultural expressions facilitate inventions of new selves and worlds. While popular, improvised, and social dances are challenging to study given their ephemerality, ethnography deepens our understanding of their political consequence, and allows us to engage in creative and political dialogue in fieldwork.

Kareem Khubchandani is Mellon Bridge Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies, and the Program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Tufts University. He is developing several book projects include: Ishtyle: Accenting Gay Indian Nightlife (forthcoming, U.Michigan Press), Queer Nightlife (co-edited with Kemi Adeyemi and Ramón Rivera-Servera), Decolonize Drag!, and Auntologies: Queer Aesthetics and South Asian Aunties. Kareem has published in SAMAJ; Scholar and Feminist Online; Transgender Studies Quarterly; Journal of Asian American Studies; and The Velvet Light Trap. He is also a performance artist, working in drag, storytelling, body art, theater, and digital media.

*No registration required. This event is free and open to attend*

Organiser: Centre for Gender Studies

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