Gender, new creativity and Carnatic music in London

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This article examines creative projects amongst second-generation, British Tamil diasporic female musicians (focused on Sri Lankan examples) located within London’s Carnatic music scene. Several scholars have suggested that the twentieth-century Indian nationalist project constructed ideals of femininity that positioned women as bearers of tradition during colonial rule to uphold the inner core of Indian culture [Bakrania 2013; Chatterjee 1989], and which were also reflected in the restricted performance and creativity of Carnatic music for female musicians [Subramanian 2006; Weidman 2003]. This article focuses on second-generation musicians, who combine their Carnatic background and ‘South Indian’ sound with other everyday sounds in Britain. Their creative projects shift from an aesthetic that was responsive to colonialism in India to highlight female creativity and hybridity in decolonising processes. This article presents examples of how cultural expectations of women as bearers of tradition are decentred, repositioning them as creative agents in a transnational diaspora.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-208
Number of pages16
JournalSouth Asian Diaspora
Issue number2
Early online date18 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes

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