Australia India Institute Seminar – Sweating Saris: Indian Dance as Transnational Labor

The Australia India Institute is hosting a seminar by Dr Priya Srinivasan titled ‘Sweating Saris: Indian Dance as Transnational Labor’:

Date:                 24th March, 2017, 5.15pm

Location:        Australia India Institute, Seminar Room, Barry Street

Presenter:      Dr. Priya Srinivasan, Melbourne Asia Institute accompanied by singer Uthra Vijay.


Dr. Srinivasan offers a few key ideas from her interdisciplinary book Sweating Saris: Indian Dance as Transnational Labor. She uses performance as research to think through Indian dancers as transnational migrant workers and wage earners, who negotiate citizenship and gender issues through performative acts. Methodologically, Priya uses ethnography, history, critical race theory, performance and post-colonial studies to investigate the embodied experience of Indian dance as a socio-politico-historical act/acts. Priya suggests that female dancers’ sweat stained and soaked saris, aching limbs, and mistakes on stage are emblematic of global circulations of labor, bodies, capital, and industrial goods.  Thus the sweating sari of the dancer stands in for her unrecognized labor.  Shifting away from the usual emphasis on Indian women dancers as culture bearers of the Indian nation, she re-frames the movements of late nineteenth century transnational Nautch Indian dancers in relation to the fore-mother of modern dance Ruth St. Denis in the early twentieth century to contemporary teenage dancers in Southern California. In doing so, Priya proposes a transformative theory of dance, gendered-labor, and citizenship based on archival embodiment and kinesthetic repertoire. Priya will be accompanied by singer Uthra Vijay.
Bio: Dr.Priya Srinivasan has a dual career as an artist and scholar committed to questions of migration, female labour, and art. Her award winning book Sweating Saris: Indian Dance as Transnational Labor examines Indian dance and dancers not just aesthetically but as gendered, racialized and migrant forms of labor. She has a long career as a performer and researcher of post-modern Indian artistic practices in Australia, USA, India, China, and Europe focusing on subalternity and bodily archives. Her work has been presented at universities such as Stanford, Oxford, Chicago, Harvard, and Northwestern and in galleries, museums and theatres in UK, USA, China and Europe. She was a tenured Associate Professor at the University of California Riverside and is currently an independent artist and researcher at the Melbourne Asia Institute. 


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