Anurima Banerji

Anurima Banerji, Associate Professor

Office: 140-B

Tel: 310-206-9178

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BA English Literature (focus on Cultural Studies) with Minor in Women's Studies, McGill University (1996)

MA Communications, McGill University (1999)

MA Performance Studies, New York University (2004)

PhD Performance Studies, New York University (2010)

My research broadly concerns critical historicizations of Indian dance.  My monograph, Dancing Odissi: Paratopic Performances of Gender and State, is forthcoming from Seagull Books/University of Chicago Press. This work traces the transformation of Odissi, a South Asian classical style, from its historical roots in court, stage, and ritual practice to its current status as transnational spectacle, with a focus on the state's regulation of gender performance in the dance. Three key themes organize the analysis: the idea of the state as choreographic agent, using customary and formal law as its instruments; the notion of "extraordinary genders," or those identities and acts that lie outside everyday norms and which are embraced in Odissi practice; and the original concept of the paratopia, or the space of alterity produced by performance, to suggest how Odissi subverts dominant cultural paradigms. I am fortunate that this work has enabled me to connect with scholars and artists in India, as well as in North American diasporic communities.

With Violaine Roussel, I co-edited the volume How to do Politics with Art (Routledge, 2017). My article "Dance and the Distributed Body," published in the journal About Performance, received the 2013 Gertrude Lippincott Award from the Congress on Research in Dance, while an earlier essay, "Paratopias of Performance: The Choreographic Practices of Chandralekha," received the 2007 Outstanding Graduate Research award from the Congress on Research in Dance. My articles, book chapters, and reviews have appeared in EPW, Dance Research Journal, e-misferica, Women and Performance, Planes of Composition: Dance, Theory, and the Global (eds. Andre Lepecki and Jenn Joy), and The Moving Space: Women and Dance (eds. Urmimala Sarkar and Aishika Chakrabarty). My research has been supported the Hellman Foundation, the American Association of University Women, and various units at NYU and UCLA. Recently I held fellowships at the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Advanced Study, New Delhi and the International Research Center, Freie Universität, Berlin, to pursue work on my new book, “The Impossibility of Indian Classical Dance.”

As a scholar trained in both cultural studies and performance studies, I am committed to interdisciplinarity in my research. My main interest lies in exploring conversations between dance history, postcolonialism, theories of spatiality, and critical legal studies, since each area shares a common concern with the body as it moves through space. An intersectional approach based on the insights of critical race theory, feminist and queer studies, and discourses of class, caste, religion, and posthumanism informs my analysis. Other areas of interest include: performance methodologies, including history, ethnography, and choreographic analysis; philosophies of the body in cross-cultural perspective; and South Asian performance histories in the subcontinent and diaspora.

At UCLA, I teach courses on Theories of Performance, Introduction to Dance Studies, World Dance Histories, Odissi Dance, and Issues in Indian Classical Dance. My hope is to encourage students to engage with ideas such as the myriad modes of writing about performance, the ethics of doing research across the lines of difference, and connecting experiences of embodiment with the production of knowledge. As an Odissi dancer and poet, I share the faculty's important goal of bridging the worlds of academia and art. I am also affiliated with the UCLA Center for India and South Asia, Center for Performance Studies, and Center for the Study of Women.

Select Publications:

Dancing Odissi: Paratopic Performances of Gender and State. Kolkata: Seagull Books/University of Chicago Press, forthcoming.

How to Do Politics with Art, co-edited by Violaine Roussel and Anurima Banerji. London: Routledge, 2017. 

“The Queer Politics of the Raj,” The Moving Space: Women and Dance, edited by Urmimala Sarkar and Aishika Chakrabarty. New Delhi: Primus Books, 2017.

“Dance and the Distributed Body: Odissi, Ritual Practice, and Mahari Performance,” About Performance no. 11, special issue, In-Between Moves, co-edited by Prof. Amanda Card and Justine Shih Pearson (2012): 7-39.

"Paratopias of Performance: The Choreographic Practices of Chandralekha." In Planes of Composition: Dance, Theory, and the Global, edited by André Lepecki and Jenn Joy. Kolkata: Seagull Books, 2010.

"An Intimate Ethnography," Women and Performance, vol. 19, no. 1 (2009)

"Notes on the Birth of Asian American Identity," Special Article, Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 37, no. 40 (October 5-11, 2002): 4143-4163.

Night Artillery. Toronto: TSAR Books, 2000.

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UCLA Department of World Arts Cultures/Dance
Box 951608, 150 Kaufman Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1608
Tel 310.825.3951