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Continuity and change of cultural practices in the performing arts: A case study of the Indian diaspora in Perth

Mudhan, Jennifer Shanthi (2019) Continuity and change of cultural practices in the performing arts: A case study of the Indian diaspora in Perth. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

This dissertation investigates diasporic Indian cultural practices in Perth, Western Australia with special reference to the performing arts. It examines, through the cultural practice of music and dance, different negotiations of diasporic cultural identity, consciousness, representation, and belonging. Drawing on theoretical discussions on diaspora in general, it investigates how an Indian diasporic group, a twice-displaced people, imagine and live their cultural practices, and how these are worked through within the context of Australia’s multicultural ethos. The study is interpretive insofar it is based on the perspectives and lived experiences of artists, teachers, parents, and students of an Indian diasporic community in Perth which has been successful in continuing traditions and embracing cultural changes. It is informed by the researcher’s own lived experiences of diasporic living, and cultural experiences with members of the diasporic body. During this experience, it was observed that continuity and change of cultural practices in the performing arts appeared to be a significant trend that was approached rather differently. Over the years, there were noticeable changes in social practices, experiences and activities in the performing arts, occurring across systems of communication, relationships and boundaries. The dissertation shows that the particular diasporic group becomes a significant ‘carrier’ or ‘host’ of changing Indian culture mainly through performances. Changes to cultural traditions are continuously reworked, reshaped and renewed. A significant contribution of this dissertation is the compelling case that, when the performing arts are responsive to changes in the wider cultural variables in a society through adaptation and transformation, mono-cultural world views of the dominant cultures may change. The diasporic group in the case study achieves this by transforming not only their own cultural behaviours, but by going beyond a ‘boutique’ multiculturalism. The dissertation includes an analysis of several performances of music and dance to demonstrate different cultural perspectives, interpretations and experiences from both the observer and the observed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: Creative Media, Arts and Design
Supervisor(s): Mishra, Vijay
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/45551
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