Institute for Social and Economic Change

Arts Research and Documentation

Grant Period: Two years

The Institute of Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bangalore, founded in 1972 by the noted economist V K R V  Rao, is one among four research institutes initially funded by the Indian Council for Social Sciences Research, New Delhi, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, that focus primarily on economic history, growth and planning and the political sciences. While ISEC is noted for its scholarship in these areas, little or no attention has been given to cultural studies. This grant supports Dr Smriti Srinivas, a recent appointee in the Sociology faculty at ISEC, to study the Karaga, a traditional ritual performed in Bangalore city and its environs by the Tigala (a backward caste), and part of the community’s ritualistic obeisance to Draupadi, consort of the five Pandavas in the Mahabharata. Her work represents an important shift in the Institute’s research priorities. A graduate of the Delhi School of Economics, her research in cultural anthropology has highlighted how plurality of customs, languages, and traditions grow and renew themselves through forms of celebratory performance and other expressions of art shared by the community.

It is this insight that gives her the theoretical scope to attempt to understand how the Tigala community, in tune with the Karaga, comes to portray, understand and reflect upon itself. Her published outcome is expected to contribute to the nascent but important studies in India that probe the intersections between cultural anthropology and performance studies. The grant will provide for a research assistant, basic computer, audio and photographic equipment and supplies, and also support fieldwork in and around Bangalore to investigate the history and present status of the Karaga through written, oral and photographic documentation. An important byproduct, starting with the work on the Karaga, will be the establishment of a possible archive on ritual and performance at ISEC.