Censorship and Women's Resistance in the Performing Arts, from Continental Asia to Insular Southeast Asia

EHESS - Salles 638-640  -  190-198, avenue de France  -  75013 Paris
This two-day conference entitled Censorship and Women's Resistance in the Performing Arts, from Continental Asia to Insular Southeast Asia brings together scholars and artists from Asia, Europe and North America concerned with censorship and the various forms of struggle and resistance that female performing artists from Central, South and South-East Asia have engaged with in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

The conference addresses a number of issues under three broad frameworks: (1) historical representation; (2) censorship, moral order, religious morality; and (3) resistance and marginality. A number of papers are concerned with the historical intertwining of nationalist discourse, claims of modernity through reform campaigns, and the censorship of the arts. Special attention is devoted to the lives of performing artists working under authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, dictatorial leadership, or in periods of religious conservatism and fundamentalism. Moreover, narratives of legal and political persecution, censure, condemnation and forced exile are taken into account. Two artists from Cambodia and India will speak about their own life-experiences, and some scholars also examine the re-shaping of selfhood under these conditions, foregrounding historical narratives of individual struggle and resilience. Significantly, the conference also deals with the ways in which artists transmit their professional knowledge and individual memory as acts of resistance to the “official histories” of the arts composed by the nation-state and its emissaries.

At various points in history and in multiple geo-cultural spaces, performances by women artists have been considered dangerous to the political and religious status quo, and have also represented forms of transgression, or even radical resistance. The conference examines the dance and music repertoires which have been forbidden in these contexts, as well as the discourse of persecution and condemnation itself, in both public and private contexts. The deep influence of Christian missions and their evangelical work in Asia, as well as the impact of recent Muslim fundamentalist movements are taken into consideration.

By looking at the force and long-standing repercussions that censorship has on women performing artists in Asia, the conference offers scholars an opportunity to consider the dangerously dogmatic and intolerant attitudes of some forms of religion, class politics, and statecraft in relation to the dancing and singing female body.

Thursday 22 May, 2014

Presentation by Marie Fourcade (CEIAS) & Bénédicte Brac de la Perrière (CASE)

Introduction by the organizers Tiziana Leucci (CEIAS), Dana Rappoport (CASE) and Davesh Soneji (McGill University, Montréal)

1. Historical Representation

10h-13h -
Chairs : Philippe Bruguière, Cité de la Musique ; François Picard, Université Paris IV
  • John Baily (University of London), Women, Music and Censorship in Afghanistan
  • Joep Bor (University of Leiden), Voluptuous Bayaderes or Dancing Whores? On Praise and Contempt for Courtesans in Early Colonial India
  • Julien Jugand (Ph. D., University of Paris X, Nanterre), Grace and Disgrace: Changing Patronage and Self-Representations of the Courtesans of Banaras in the 20th century
  • Tiziana Leucci (CNRS, Centre d’Études de l’Inde et d’Asie du Sud, Paris), Censorship and Resistance of the South Indian Courtesans: Silenced Voices and Forgotten Struggles. Bangalore Nagaratnamma’s Combats (1910-1952)
Chair : Stéphanie Tawa Lama-Rewal, Centre d’Études de l’Inde et d’Asie du Sud, Paris

  • Catherine Basset (Centre Asie du Sud-Est), Figures of the “bayadère” (public singer/dancer/lover) and of the “femme savante” (literate woman) on the Javanese and Javano-Balinese Stage: a Tantric Point of View.
  • Philip Yampolsky (University of Illinois), The Ubiquity And Persistence Of Erotic Dance In Indonesia
  • Lucie Labbé (Ph. D Student, Centre Asie du Sud-Est, Paris), Keeping Khmer Court Dance Alive Through The Vicissitude Of Cambodia's Recent History (From 1953 To Present Day)

The voice of the performers: Savay Meas, Court Dancers

Friday 23 May, 2014

2. Censorship, Moral Order, Religious Morality

Chair : Catherine Servan-Schreiber, Centre d’Études de l’Inde et d’Asie du Sud, Paris
  • Intan Paramaditha (University of New York), Obsession for the Visible: The Politics of Vilified Bodies and Religious Morality in Indonesia
  • Dana Rappoport (Centre Asie du Sud-Est, Paris), «Tell Me Yes!»: Music And Censorship in The Toraja Highlands (Sulawesi, Indonesia)
  • Renaud Redien-Collot (Novancia Business School, Paris), Women Social Representation and Social Control

3. Resistance and Marginality

14h-18h -
Chair : Hélène Marquié, Université Paris VIII

  • Marie Lecomte-Tilouine (Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale, Paris), Women’s Cultural Struggle and Artivism in Nepal
  • Anna Morcom (Royal Holloway, University of London), India's Marginalised Erotic Performers in the 20th and 21st Centuries: Strategies Of Survival
  • Davesh Soneji (McGill University, Montréal), Stigma, Resistance, Resilience: Dance and Subterfuges of "Reform" among Women from Devadasi Communities in Globalized South India

The voice of the performer: Yashoda Thakore (Hyderabad University, India), dancer and scholar

Round Table

Final discussion with all the speakers, performers and audience + Cocktail

  • du jeudi 22 mai 2014 à 09h30 au  vendredi 23 mai 2014 à 19h

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