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Rethinking Ritual: A Project of the Asia in the Humanities Initiative

The UCLA Asia Institute invites UCLA faculty whose research engages the theme of ritual and performance in Asia to participate in a planning workshop to develop a new working group which will be part of a larger initiative on “Asia in the Humanities; The Humanities in Asia.”

The UCLA Asia Institute invites UCLA faculty whose research engages the theme of ritual and performance in Asia to participate in a planning workshop to develop a new working group which will be part of a larger initiative on “Asia in the Humanities; The Humanities in Asia.” The workshop will be scheduled in April or May, 2012 according to the availability of interested participants.  


The singular importance of the textual tradition in Asian (East Asian, Indic, Buddhist) cultures has long been acknowledged. Less appreciated, until recently perhaps, is the extent to which performance has been central to these cultures. Whether understood in its broader implications of social or political role-playing or in its narrower meaning of theatrical display, Asian societies and cultures have been highly performative. We start our investigations from the observations that genres of performance in Asia were shared across high and low cultures, and they spanned the divide between literacy and orality, between text and performance.
This working group aims to engage the ways in which ritual as a category has been used (or ignored) in analyzing certain types of performance, including film, theater, and dance. In the Western humanistic tradition—whether anthropological or historical, ritual has tended to be ascribed to the past (tradition) or to Eastern Others, whereas the West becomes the locus for secular modernity and its various new technologies of performance. We hope to problematize the ways in which theoretical discussions of ritual have reified East/West, tradition/modernity, and religious/secular dichotomies.

Initial organizing topics include:
Ritual—Nations and States
Ritual, Performance and Politics
Technologies of/as Ritual and Performance
Rituals of Gender

The Asia in the Humanities initiative aims to bring together researchers from UCLA with our counterparts from institutions in Asia, from disciplines ranging from the arts and literature to the social sciences, and spanning historical as well as modern and contemporary dimensions. With this initial meeting of a UCLA working group, we hope to establish topics for sustained discussion and future programming that will lead to international workshops, collaborative and individual research networks, graduate student mentorship and training, and funding opportunities.

Please submit a statement of interest and include a brief abstract of your research interests or an ongoing research project for a five-minute presentation to the group by March 26, 2012. Performative submissions (film, music, dance/theater) may also be considered. UCLA faculty in all disciplines and regional specializations are invited to participate.

Abstracts may be submitted to Elizabeth Leicester, Assistant Director, UCLA Asia Institute at eleicester@international.ucla.edu. A longer summary of the proposed initiative is also available on request.


For further information, questions, ideas, and requests, please contact the organizers:
Anurima Banerji, World Arts and Cultures (anurima@arts.ucla.edu)
Andrea Goldman, History (goldman@history.ucla.edu)
Aparna Sharma, World Arts and Cultures (a.sharma@arts.ucla.edu)
Bin Wong, Director, UCLA Asia Institute (rbwong@international.ucla.edu)
 

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