SEMINAR - HYBRID EVENT: Indo-American Geopolitics, the Festival of India and the Mahabharata: Intercultural Theatre and/as Soft Power

  • Datum: –16.00
  • Plats: SCAS SCAS, Linnéanum, Thunbergssalen, Thunbergsvägen 2 Uppsala
  • Föreläsare: Rashna Darius Nicholson, Barbro Klein Fellow, SCAS. Assistant Professor of Theatre Studies, University of Hong Kong
  • Webbsida
  • Arrangör: Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
  • Kontaktperson: Klas Holm
  • Seminarium

Rashna Darius Nicholson, SCAS och University of Hong Kong, talar på temat "Indo-American Geopolitics, the Festival of India and the Mahabharata: Intercultural Theatre and/as Soft Power". Seminariet hålls på engelska och följs av en frågestund.


The Festival of India (1985 to 1986), described as “an event without parallel in the history of cultural interchange between India and the United States and perhaps between the United States and any other country”, was conceived to provide the American public with a comprehensive projection of the life, art, and culture of India from ancient times to the present day. The Festival spanned forty states and over a hundred cities; comprised more than seven hundred art exhibitions, programs of music, dance, drama, film shows, seminars, workshops, and lectures sponsored by over two hundred cultural institutions; engendered extensive media coverage; and cost approximately $20 million. It not only constituted“one of the biggest events ever mounted to promote goodwill and understanding between two countries”,  but also served to promote bilateral relations, economic and technological exchange, and tourism; to expedite the liberalization of the Indian economy (thereby propelling India away from the Soviet Union); and to alter the direction of cultural, art history, and not least theatre studies in the following decades. Drawing on records in the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC), this paper situates one of the Festival’s “major attractions”—Peter Brook’s Mahabharata—arguably the most studied and most controversial performance event of the twentieth century—within the geopolitics of Indo-US Cold War diplomacy, Indian development, and American foundations’ efforts to consolidate a transregional epistemic community of political, cultural, and intellectual elites. It demonstrates how the production’s impact and renown was due to its strategic, utilitarian position as a cultural bridge at the critical moment when the Indian and US government sought to redefine their relations. The paper traces the undisclosed script enacted by the event’s key performers: both high-profile statesmen as well as hitherto unknown figures (officers of the JDR 3rd Fund, Ford Foundation, and Indo-US Subcommission; deputies of the Indian Ministry of Culture; university representatives; and key journalists). In so doing, it illuminates the hidden, multi-layered political exigencies behind the production’s staging.

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