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The conference will host over 40 scholars of various disciplines from North America, Europe, South Asia, and Australasia:


Artist: Vasuki
Artist: Kiko
Artist: Vasan

Abraham, S.
Ambalavanar, D.
Arasu, V.
Champakalakshmi, R.
Cheran, R.
Fukao, J.
George, G.
George, U.
Ghose, R.
Guruge, S.
Jegathesan, M.
Kanaganayakam, C.
Kanthasamy, P.
Karunakaran, K.
Karunanithi, G.
Kingsolver, A.
Mason, R.
Maunaguru, S.
Maunaguru, Sitralega
McNaughton, S.
More, J.B.P.
Orr, L.
Pai, G.
Palaniappan, S.
Pandian, M.S.S.
Rajesh, V.
Renganathan, V.
Sangarasivam, Y.
Seylon, R.
Shanmugam, K.
Sivalingam, H.
Sriramachandran, R.
Sundar, A.
Tambiah, S.J.
Tyyskä, V.
Vaitheespara, R.
Vivekananthan, P.
Whitaker, M.
Xavier, S.
Young, K.
Younger, P.


Department of English
Stella Maris College

Performing Gender and Culture: Performing Arts in Tamil Nadu
Saturday, June 2nd | 3:00 - 5:00 PM
Tamil has a hoary past of performance traditions, as old as or even older than its literatures. At a time when Tamil as a Classical language has been legitimized by the Government of India, it is interesting to lay bare the dynamics of gender and culture permeating in the performance traditions in Tamil Nadu.

Bharata Natyam, considered a pan- Indian classical dance form, is a relatively recent form that consolidated itself with the advent of colonial debates. Sadhir or Dasi Attam, linked to the temple economy was brought to the civil arena, sanitized and Indianised. (Avanthi Medhuri)

On the other hand we have the Isai Natakam or popularly known as ‘Special Drama’, which came into existence with the influence of Parsi Theatre. It brought artists from different communities together. The unique organisational aspect of Nadigar Sangam, in particular, deserves special mention. (Susan Seizer)

The dynamics of the construction of caste and gender in both these forms in the context of various other dance, narrative and dramatic forms will be explored in this paper. Alternate efforts made in forms like Tappattam, Devarattam and Theru-k- Koothu will be highlighted. Personal experiences of experimenting with some of these forms and with the artists practicing these forms would be foregrounded in the discussion.

Mangai is the pseudonym of Padma Venkataraman, who teaches English in Stella Maris College, Chennai. She has been actively engaged in Tamil theatre as an actor, Director and Playwright for over two decades. She was one of the Founder- members of Chennai Kalai Kuzhu, Shakthi, Palkalai Arangam, Voicing Silence and Marappachi. Her fields of interest are theatre, gender and translation studies. She writes in both Tamil and English. Her recent publications include entries in Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre (2004), translation of her play Pani-t-Thee as Frozen Fire in Staging Resistance: Plays by Women (2004), translation of Ngugi wa Thiongo’s Decolonising the Mind as Adaiyala Meetpu: Kalaneeya Oomail Agarral (2004) and Penniya Arasiyal: A monograph on Feminist Politics (2005).