Performance Practices of Diasporic Sri Lankan Tamil Communities in London

Embodied Migration

by Ann R. David, Journal of Intercultural Studies, August 2012, 33:4, 375-394


See the source imageThis paper examines issues of embodied performativity and transmission of dance  practices amongst Sri Lankan Tamil Hindus in the suburbs of London, focusing on how the experience of migration has shaped the making of cultural and ethnic identities.Using data gathered from recent ethnographic work in British Tamil temples and in the Tamil community, it addresses the complex discourse between the religious and political sense of selfhood articulated in these Sri Lankan Tamil groups, particularly in relation to dance and ritual performance, and seeks to answer questions regarding the place of dance and movement in defining such identity. In addition, I note the expansion in transmission and performance of the classical dance form of Bharatanatyam in British temple locations and the presence of trance dancing at Hindu festivals, and question how investigating migration as embodied practice might lead to greater understanding of such highly politicised contexts.

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