Panel 3, Arts, Literature, and Popular Culture

Anne Murphy

Associate Professor of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia

“Connected Literatures: Local and Transnational Cultural Production in Punjabi”

My presentation seeks to open discussion of the deeply local and simultaneously transnational nature of Punjabi language cultural production, inviting consideration of the ways in which cross-border work functions to destabilize understanding of ideas of “Diaspora,” “Homeland” and indeed “Nation” itself, and in so doing to produce an ethics of engagement both within and across national boundaries.

Nilanjana Bhattacharjya

Senior Lecturer in the Honors Program, Arizona State University

Dr. Nilanjana Bhattacharjya

“Tejaswini Niranjana’s Mobilizing india: migration, popular music, and the constitution of nation, modernity, gender, and sexuality”

I will consider a crucial contribution to studies on South Asian migration, Tejaswini Niranjana’s Mobilizing India: Women, Music, Migration Between India and Trinidad, and to open a discussion on how we may incorporate some of her own methodology into our own scholarship. Niranjana’s book focuses on how music and dance help define the identities of Indo-Trinidadian women, and in doing so, affect our understanding of what constitutes the nation, modernity, gender, and sexuality in India. Niranjana’s book transcends the conventional categories of genre, discipline, and geography, and she is especially interested in what it means for somebody like her, an Indian woman, to study Indo-Trinidadian women— women who may look like her but whose histories require Niranjana’s own efforts to discover if, where, and how their histories diverge and converge with her own. Based in India, she considers how scholars from the South can engage in comparative work across the South and to move beyond depending on conceptions that originate from the study of Western European culture. Finally, as an established scholar in Caribbean and African literature, she explains how within her studies of literature she never found a space to address music’s regular exclusion as a legitimate “text” in her discipline— an issue that she found especially troubling given popular music’s role in West Indian cultural politics. Furthermore, she notes that any attempt to move beyond the “official histories” must consider everyday cultural practices in diasporic communities, which motivates her focus on chutney-soca and calypso.