Accepted paper:

Culture that mediates: popularization of tamāśā

Authors:

Reiko Iida (Kyoto University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper aims to understand the current phenomenon of Western Indian urban culture in relation to the expansion of urban sphere and diversification of media. In particular, I would like to focus on tamāśā and which is developing as a popular urban culture representing Western Indian life.

Paper long abstract:

This paper aims to understand the current phenomenon of Western Indian urban culture in relation to the expansion of urban sphere and diversification of media. In particular, I would like to focus on tamāśā which is developing as a popular urban culture representing Western Indian life. The word tamāśā came to refer to a popular Maharashtrian folk theatre, a tradition that remains strong and popular in rural areas, although it has often been regarded as vulgar by the 'sophisticated' urban dwellers. Originally, tamāśā performances commonly involved dramatic comic sketches and profane satires. Recently, however, tamāśā has been re-evaluated. The performances have changed, with the dancing forms and staging configurations becoming more elegant. With these changes, the new middle class, which emerged after the economic liberalization in 1991, started to view tamāśā from a different angle. The drama form now represents the rising class of people who have connection with both urban and rural as well as elite and non-elite. Through the mediating role of the middle class, the urban sphere is expanding both horizontally towards the rural and vertically towards the non-elite. The dynamism of culture in this expanding urban sphere is supported by the diversifying media. In the case of tamāśā, VCDs, DVDs and photographs are currently sold in music stores, bookshops and online stores. Tamāśā is becoming a 'trendy' and 'elegant' performance with popular erotic touch which attracts a diverse population in this expanding urban sphere.

panel P005
The transformation of South Asian performing arts in the age of globalization: an anthropological analysis