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Case Studies

Awadh Case Study

The Awadh Case Study is concerned with imagining pre-colonial histories of music and dance – and forging methodologies to write histories of them – in order to understand the dramatic transformations so meticulously documented in the new cultural histories of late colonial economies of music and dance. For these transformations were not unprecedented and had much longer genealogies, and even today their legacies have been in many cases restricted or partial.

The aim of the Case Study is to think through the question: of what was there to be changed before colonialism really took hold, and how and why it changed over a much longer timeframe than is usually considered, c.1750-1900 and beyond. We overtly consider the fields of music and dance to have been undifferentiated before the late colonial period, and we want to think about how discursive and embodied knowledge systems in this unitary field were transformed in the transition from pre-colonial to colonial regimes through an examination of a wide range of textual and visual sources in multiple languages: Sanskrit, Persian, Hindavi, Hindi, Urdu, and Bengali.

Originally conceived to focus on the transformations at the court of the Nawabs of Lucknow, the geographic remit of the project has extended beyond Hindustan, or the Doab, and Bengal into the Deccan, the court of the Nizams of Hyderabad, and the courts of Kathmandu.  Members of the team are analysing a complex web of social and political relationships inflected by geography, language, ethnicity and the ever-present shadow of the colonial state. Our research is based in a rich and diverse multilingual archive: in particular, we have unearthed and are interrogating a huge number of previously un- or under-examined musical treatises spanning the temporal frame and geographical scope of our analysis. Ultimately, the Case Study aims to produce a detailed and revisionist history of north Indian classical music in the period and across lines of genre, class and region.

Members of the team include:

Dr Katherine Butler Schofield 
Principal Investigator and Case Study Leader;

Mr Richard Williams
PhD Student on the Awadh Case Study;

Dr James Kippen
A specialist on tal and drumming, and a Visiting Fellow based at the University of Toronto;

Dr Allyn Miner
An accomplished sitar player and scholar, and a Visiting Fellow based at the University of Pennsylvania;

Dr Margaret Walker 
An expert on Indian dance and particularly kathak, and a Visiting Fellow based at Queen’s University, Ontario.


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