SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

Dr Priyanka Basu

  • Teaching
  • Research


 Priyanka Basu
SOAS South Asia Institute


Dr Priyanka Basu
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Dr. Priyanka Basu is the Project Curator of the AHRC-funded digitization project, ‘Two Centuries of Indian Print’ at the British Library, London. She received her PhD degree in South Asian Studies from the Department of South Asia, in SOAS. Her thesis, “Bengali Kabigan: Performers, Histories and the Cultural Politics of ‘Folk’” was completed on the Felix scholarship. Priyanka has conducted fieldwork in West Bengal (India) and Bangladesh funded by the Postgraduate Fieldwork Award (2012) from SOAS. She is currently working on a monograph based on her doctoral thesis. Her earlier Masters and MPhil degrees were completed at the Centre for English Studies in JNU, New Delhi.

She has been running the South Asia Seminar series at the British Library as part of the ‘Two Centuries of Indian Print’ project. She has delivered lectures as an invited speaker at Harvard University (2018), Michigan State University (2018), Ireland India Institute (2018), Jadavpur University (2016), and Shiv Nadar University (2019). She has taught as a Guest Lecturer in Calcutta and at SOAS in courses on “South Asian Culture” and the “Politics of Culture in Contemporary South Asia”. Priyanka is trained in the Indian classical dance form of Odissi and has performed in the UK, India and Japan. In 2016, she was one of the participants at the month-long Nrityagram Summer Dance Workshop in Bangalore.

Her research interests include theatre, performance and film histories, book history, gender, and dance studies. In her current research project, she is looking to write a cultural history of the itinerant theatre company, Shakespeareana in South Asia and following from its tryst in the Second World War. Within this project, she is also looking into the history of British Ballet during the Second World War through organisations like the ENSA, CEMA and Sadler’s Wells. As part of her doctoral research and her ongoing interest in Indian cinema, she is also looking at the relationship between film music and visual representation in Bengali cinema through promotional material, such as film booklets.



Publications (selected):

  • Cockfight in Tune: Bengali Kobigaan and the Cultural Politics of ‘Folk’ in West Bengal & Bangladesh (Forthcoming).
Journal Articles
  • “Becoming ‘folk’: religion, protest and cultural communism in the Kabigāna of Ramesh Sil and Gumani Dewan”, in Journal of South Asian History and Culture, Vol. 8, Issue 3, pp. 317-337. [ISSN: 1947-2498 (Print) 1947-2501 (Online)].
  • “Texts of Power, Acts of Dissent: Performability and Theatricality in Nabarun Bhattacharya’s Short Stories”, in Sanglap: Journal of Literary and Cultural Enquiry, Vol. 2, No. 1 Sup [Special Issue on Nabarun Bhattacharya], August 2015, pp. 70-89. [ISSN: 2349-8064].
  • “Before the Dance: ‘Nascent’ Dance Movements in Non-Dance Performances: the Case of Kobigaan”, in the Journal of Emerging Dance Studies, September 2013, pp. 1-30, ( [ISSN 2309-267X].

Chapters in Edited Volumes
  • “The Hand in the Song: Gender Labour Relationship in the Arts of the Chitrakar Community of Bengal”, in Anna Morcom and Neelam Raina (eds), Labour, Livelihood and Creative Economies: South Asian Performers and Craftspeople, London: Routledge (Forthcoming).
  • “Influences of Literature and Visual Arts in Narrative Indian Cinema”, in Bindu Menon, Spandan Bhattacharya and Vebhuti Duggal (eds.), Film Studies: An Introduction, New Delhi; Kolkata: Worldview Publications (Forthcoming).
  • “From the Temple to the Studio-space: Transformations of Women Dancers' Labour in Films”, in The Moving Space: Women in Dance, New Delhi: Primus, 2017, pp. 138-158. [ISBN: 978-93-86552-50-1].
  • “Going Global in a New Package: Reception of Kobi’r Larai in the UK”, in Knowing One Another, London: Brick Lane Circle, 2015, pp. 47-52.
  • “The Beauty Myth and Beyond: Looking at the Bollywood ‘Item Number’”, in Urmimala Sarkar and Stephanie Burridge (eds), Celebrating Dance in India, New Delhi: Routledge, 2010, pp. 169-191. [ISBN 978-0-415-61709-3].
Book Reviews:
  • ‘Book Review’ of Jeanne Openshaw, The Life and Philosophy of a Dissenting Bengali Baul Guru, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2010, in Indian Journal for Gender Studies, Vol. 18, Issue 3 (September–December), New Delhi: Sage Publications, pp. 439-446.
  • ‘Book Review’ of Urmimala Sarkar Munsi (ed.), Dance: Transcending Borders, New Delhi: Tulika Books, 2008, in Contemporary Perspectives: History and Sociology of South Asia, Vol. 3, No. 1, January-June, 2009, pp. 171-175. [ISSN 0973-7898].