Disembodiment and South Asian Performance Cultures
This chapter exposes the role of expressive culture in the rise and spread of late twentieth-century Hindu identity politics. Rumya S. Putcha examines how Hindu nationalism is fueled by affective logics that have crystallized around the female classical dancer and have situated her gendered and athletic body as a transnational emblem of an authentic Hindu and Indian national identity. This embodied identity is represented by the historical South Indian temple dancer and has, in the postcolonial era, been rebranded as the nationalist classical dancer. The author connects the dancer to transnational forms of identity politics, heteropatriarchal marriage economies, as well as pathologies of gender violence. In so doing, the author examines how the affective politics of 'Hinduism' have functionally disembodied the Indian dancer from her voice and her agency in a democratic nation-state. Putcha argues that the nationalist and now transnationalist production of the classical dancer exposes misogyny and casteism and thus requires a critical feminist dismantling.