In-Between Worlds: Performing [as] Bauls in an Age of Extremism

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This book examines the performance of Bauls, ‘folk’ performers from Bengal, in the context of a rapidly globalizing Indian economy and against the backdrop of extreme nationalistic discourses.

Recognizing their scope beyond the musical and cultural realm, Sukanya Chakrabarti engages in discussing the subversive and transformational potency of Bauls and their performances. In-Between Worlds argues that the Bauls through their musical, spiritual, and cultural performances offer ‘joy’ and ‘spirituality,’ thus making space for what Dr. Ambedkar in his famous 1942 speech had identified as ‘reclamation of human personality’. Chakrabarti destabilizes the category of ‘folk’ as a fixed classification or an origin point, and fractures homogeneous historical representations of the Baul as a ‘folk’ performer and a wandering mendicant exposing the complex heterogeneity that characterizes this group. Establishing ‘folk-ness’ as a performance category, and ‘folk festivals’ as sites of performing ‘folk-ness,’ contributing to a heritage industry that thrives on imagined and recreated nostalgia, Chakrabarti examines different sites that produce varied performative identities of Bauls, probing the limits of such categories while simultaneously advocating for polyvocality and multifocality.

While this project has grounded itself firmly in performance studies, it has borrowed extensively from fields of postcolonial studies and subaltern histories, literature, ethnography and ethnomusicology, and cosmopolitan studies.


Film and Theatre