Performing Arts in North East India: Contexts and Challenges

deadline for submissions: 
September 5, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Damdama College, Guwahati

    Performing Arts in North East India: Contexts and Challenges

(10th October, 2018)

North east India is rich in its performing arts, with Bihu dances in Assam or Thang-ta in Manipur. Traditions in mime, mobile theater, street plays and puppetry are part of the region's aesthetic oeuvre. They link communities to their environment, shaping and defining who or what they are-in short identities, which in a globalized and economically fuzzy world becomes coterminous with ‘democracy’ and the anti -capital. The challenges of neo-capitalism have however stymied local traditions, so that there is a Bollyowod makeover of most cultural templates. While earlier instances of cinema in India for example, the music of Naushad, drew inspiration from the folk songs of Uttar Pradesh, today it is the other way round. It is mainstream commercial cinema music that audiences want the traditional singers to play. Nonetheless, the ethnic arts have also staged a comeback. Puppetry, once considered dead and useless, now supplement and de-formulate political narratives to expose the insidiousness and gullibility of the master class and the subjects respectively. To the colonialists, traditional performing arts in India were mere imitation in the tradition of a ‘guru shishya parampara.’ But, even the most orthodox forms can take expressive anti-colonial stance and explain why the white oppressors became squeaky and enacted the ‘Dramatic Performance Bill’ in 1876.’ It was their way to ‘discipline’ and ‘punish’ aberrations, as Foucault remarked or what Orwell in his explosive 1984, called the crime of ‘thought.’ It is here that artistic independence becomes important. In Assam and India's North East, attempts at meshing community theatre with the Western idea of a proscenium stage  has been demonstrated recently in the theater of Shukracharya Rabha. Again, the martial dances of Manipur and Nagaland coagulate ethnic history with the flux of a post national and a post human world to comment on the now of existence.

The department of English, Damdama College, Guwahati invites paper proposals that explores these and other related issues of relevance through a  national seminar in its campus on the 10th of October, 2018. Though the special emphasis of this seminar is on north-east India, other related themes that add significant new ideas to the platform are welcome.

Abstracts, maximum of 250(two fifty) words with three key words should reach the college by the 5th of September, 2018. Selected papers will be notified by 20th of September and will be later published by a highly reputed publishing house with ISBN. References should be as per the 8th Edition of the MLA Handbook. Limited accommodation is available to outstation participants and scholars. The College will provide morning breakfast and dining. Local sightseeing will be arranged for intending candidates.  The following are the sub-themes of the seminar:

  1. Mobile theaters and the Imagined Community.
  2. Culture, Globalization and the performing arts
  3. Media, the performing arts and posthumanism.
  4. Performing arts and Urban legends.
  5. Should there be a performing arts curriculum?
  6. Street theater and the rights to perform.
  7. Avant garde and the risks of differance.
  8. Puppetry in the 21st Century.


Important Dates: Abstract: 5th of September, 2018

Acceptance: 20th September, 2018

Conference Date: 10th October, 2018

Paper Presenters: Rs 1500/-(Individual)

Participation: Rs 600

Send in your paper at the following address: or at Convenor