The Theatre of Death in the Impossibilities of Utopia: Stories from the Indian People's Theater Association
Talk by Geeta Patel, Wellesley College
Monday, March 10, 2008
12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
10383 Bunche Hall
The Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA), one of the most prolific and prominent theatre movements in South Asia in the 1940s and 50s, is said to have had a fairly short though very full life. What did it do? Why did it die? Those two questions folded into one another have flowered into two possible scenarios that appear to resolve the secret of IPTA's end. One is that it was such a utopian project that its death was inevitable. The other is that it turned so rigidly Marxist that it froze unto death. This paper will interrogate those narratives to begin to understand the lineages and lineaments of IPTA's demise. In the process, since different commentators on IPTA have assigned its death different dates, it will begin to grapple with the temporalities of dying: What is death? When is death? What is the relationship between utopian projects that promise new postcolonial futures and death? We have grown to envision of death as a single moment in a single life, the moment when someone gives up their last breath, but is death something else: a kind of necessary lingering into a different life?
Geeta Patel is an Associate Professor of Women's Studies and Co-director of the South Asia Studies Program at Wellesley College. Her book from Stanford University Press, Lyrical Movements, Historical Hauntings: Gender, Colonialism and Desire in Miraji’s Urdu poetry, reads a renegade writer through nationalism gender, sexuality, and grief in twentieth century Urdu poetic movements. Her work, circling around prose and poetry in Sanskrit, Urdu, Hindi, Braj and Awadhi, includes translation and short personal pieces. Her theoretical stance, informed by translation theory from South Asian studies, sexuality studies and gender theory, postcolonial, diaspora and subaltern historiography, and crossover questions from the history of science, is fashioned in her most recent manuscript “Gendering the Global Nation.” “Cupped in a Hand,” currently in progress is a volume of her new translations of Miraji’s verse. Her current project, "Insuring Lives, Assuring a Future: The Poetics of Finance, on Risk, Insurance and Pensions in South Asia," opens with the early East India Company archives and closes with labor movements in contemporary Sri Lanka.
Sponsor(s): Center for India and South Asia, Department of Gender Studies