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  • Introduction

    Harshita Mruthinti Kamath

    Chapter from the book: Kamath, H. 2019. Impersonations: The Artifice of Brahmin Masculinity in South Indian Dance.


    The brahmin male body has occupied the central focus of Hindu religious texts and practices for thousands of years. Despite such a position of power within the Hindu religious milieu, brahmin masculinity as a distinct gender and caste category is undertheorized in current scholarly discourse. Filling this lacuna, this chapter surveys scholarship on masculinity studies, South Asian masculinities, and brahmin communities to consider the construction of brahmin masculinity. The chapter also provides historical background on the Kuchipudi village and the development of Kuchipudi into a nationally recognized classical Indian dance form. The insularity of the village’s Smarta brahmin community, coupled with the globalization of Kuchipudi as a transnational dance form, affords a particularly fruitful starting point to trace the transformation of gender and caste norms from village to urban and transnational spaces. The significance of impersonation in the Kuchipudi village provides a unique case study through which to examine the construction of hegemonic brahmin masculinity within a highly confined space, while tracing the contingency of gender and caste norms beyond the village.

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    Kamath, H. 2019. Introduction. In: Kamath, H, Impersonations. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.72.a

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    Published on June 4, 2019