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About this event

South Asia and its Diaspora:

Musical Performances in the Cultures of Decolonisation

Keynote speaker: Professor Tina K Ramnarine

Decolonisation is a creative process, as well as a historical and political one. Interdisciplinary critical attention to creative processes offers insights into the cultures of decolonisation. This conference reflects on these creative processes by focusing on the musical performances of South Asia and its diaspora. It takes a broad view of musical performances, encompassing auditory experiences in cross-arts projects, dance and sacred expressions. It is hosted in connection with the Horniman Museum and Gardens' summer series. The season featured music, dance, installations and film screenings and highlighted creative practices ranging from traditional music to urban electronic experimental projects. In addition, the series promoted community engagement as musicians performed on examples of various instruments housed within the Horniman. The programme extended to the centre of Forest Hill - and culminated in a carnival. This conference informs critical listening and thinking around these performance events.

Provisional Schedule

9:00 – 9.45 Registration and coffee

9.45 – 10.00 Welcome

10.00 – 11.30 Panel 1   Decolonising Processes

Chair – Dr Avanthi Meduri, Department of Dance, Roehampton University

Decolonizing Indian Classical Dance? Projects of Reform, Classical to Contemporary

Professor Sitara Thobani, Michigan State University

The BBC Young Dancer and Decolonising Imagination

Magdalen Gorringe, Roehampton University

Decolonization and Hindustani Music: The View from California

Dr David Trasoff, independent researcher

11.30 – 12.30 Keynote Address

Performance Research in a Decolonising Era: Examples from India and its Diaspora

Professor Tina K. Ramnarine, Royal Holloway University of London

12.30 – 1.30 Lunch

1.30-2.30 Panel 2 - (Post)colonial Encounters

Chair – Dr Barley Norton, Department of Music, Goldsmiths University of London

Colonial Choreography for Colonial Mise-en-scène: Manipulation of Sri Lankan Dancers in Colonial Photographs and Films

Sudesh Mantillake, University of Maryland, USA, and Department of Fine Arts University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Music of the Raj? Symphonies and Soft Power in India

Hannah Marsden, Royal Holloway, University of London

2.30-3.30 Panel 3 - Caribbean Connections

Chair – Margaret Birley, Horniman Museum

Bidesiya Theatre: Musical Folk drama from Indian Diaspora to Caribbean Lands and Launda Naach

Satkirti Sinha, Royal Holloway, University of London

‘When de music soundin’ sweet’: Performance practice, instrument construction, and the changing aesthetics of Trinidadian tassa drumming

Professor Christopher Ballengee, Anne Arundel Community College, Maryland, USA

3.30-4pm - Tea

4pm – 5pm  Panel 4 -  Diasporic Creativities

Chair – Dr Razia Sultanova, University of Cambridge

Resistance and Renewal: new vocabularies of dance and music in the Indian performance tradition of Odissi

Nisha Somasundaram, independent researcher, and Tiyasha Dutta Paul, School of Oriental and African Studies University of London

Gender, New Creativity and Carnatic Music in London

Dr Jasmine Hornabrook, Goldsmiths, University of London

17:00 – 17:30

Concluding remarks

Dr Maria del Pilar Kaladeen, Centre for Postcolonial Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London


 Please download the provisional schedule:


Please direct any questions regarding the conference to mbirley@horniman.ac.uk

Programme Committee

  • Margaret Birley, Horniman Museum and Gardens;
  • Dr Maria del Pilar Kaladeen, Centre for Postcolonial Studies, School of Advanced Studies, University of London;
  • Dr Barley Norton, Goldsmiths, University of London.

The conference is co-sponsored by the Royal Anthropological Institute.

Tickets and booking information 

Conference registration fee - £20.00

Student and RAI members registration fee - £10.00

Speakers will not be charged a registration fee.