Mapping the Nation: Performance Art in India and Narratives of Nationalism and Citizenship

Part of the Contemporary Performance InterActions book series (CPI)


The body has emerged as a significant discursive concept, the subject and medium of artistic inquiry in the past few decades. It remains a fundamental site for the politics of identity, representation and resistance. In contemporary performance practices the body signifies a critical site for ideological expression, aesthetic and formalistic experiments and social and political comment. This paper will provide an insight into the methodologies used by a selection of performance artists in India who have utilized their bodies to share narratives regarding the nation, gender and citizenship. Focusing on the artists’ work and voices, the paper would explore their personal and political trajectories that tie up with historical and contemporary views of the body in the context of its democratic and citizenship rights. This would be foregrounded within the present debate in India regarding the concept of ‘nationalism’, the legal framework of ‘sedition’ and the right to free speech.


  1. Bhabha, Homi K. (ed.). 1990. Nation and Narration. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Chatterjee, Partha. 1993. The Nation and its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  3. ________. 2011. The Sacred Circulation of National Images. In The Indian Postcolonial: A Critical Reader, eds. Elleke Boehmer and Rosinka Chaudhuri, 19–32. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Guha-Thakurta, Tapati. 2011. The Blurring of Distinctions: The Artwork and the Religious Icon in Contemporary India. In The Indian Postcolonial: A Critical Reader, eds. Elleke Boehmer, and Rosinka Chaudhuri, 33–38. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Menon, Nivedita. 2012. Seeing Like a Feminist. New Delhi: Zubaan-Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  6. Noorani, A.G. 2016. Nationalism and Its Contemporary Discontents in India. In On Nationalism, eds. Romila Thapar, A.G. Noorani and Sadanand Menon, 59–103. New Delhi: Aleph Book Company.Google Scholar
  7. Ramaswamy, Sumathi. 2011. The Goddess and the Nation: Mapping Mother India. New Delhi: Zubaan.Google Scholar
  8. Thapar, Romila. 2015. Introduction: The Public Intellectual in India. In The Public Intellectual in India, eds. Chandra Chari and Uma Iyengar, xi–xxxiv. New Delhi: Aleph Book Company.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jawaharlal Nehru UniversityNew DelhiIndia

Personalised recommendations