Current Institutional Affiliation
Folklife Specialist, Research and Programs, The American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1998
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Texas / Austin
Cultural Performances, Community Formations: The Indian Diaspora in Jamaica

The project investigates Indian cultural performances in Jamaica -- festivals, music and dance, rituals -­as central arenas in the struggle for ethnic community and in processes of pan-ethnic identification. Ethnographic field work will focus on the ways in which once-specific cultural practices have become important sites for fostering solidarity between the Indo-Jamaican minority population and numerically dominant Afro-Jamaicans in the rural district of Vere. However, creolized performances are also critiqued as examples of cultural loss and inauthentic practices in contrast to the productions of the elite-led Indo­Jamaican Cultural Society in nearby Kingston. Studying the contrast between forms and interpretations in these two locations will highlight the efforts of specific social actors to extend and contest cultural, social, and political hegemony within the Indo­Jamaican community. My research thus moves attention away from an exclusive focus on tracing continuities and breaks between contemporary performances and root traditions in the Indian diaspora. I focus instead on power, performance, and the processes of hybridity and creolization as crucial to the formation of multiples senses of self and community in Jamaica.