Singing a Hindu Nation: Marathi Devotional Performance and Nationalism

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9780199730834: Singing a Hindu Nation: Marathi Devotional Performance and Nationalism

Singing a Hindu Nation explores how the political becomes devotional through musical performance. At the heart of author Anna Schultz's study is r=ashtr=iya k=irtan, a western Indian performance medium that combines song, Hindu philosophical discourse, and nationalist storytelling. Performers of r=ashtr=iya k=irtan have impacted the political environment throughout the last century, inspiring Marathi-speaking people to resist colonial domination both violently and non-violently in the early twentieth century, supporting state health and national integration projects in the early post-colonial era, and in the last decade of the century, using their performances to buttress the rhetoric of Hindu nationalists as these groups rose to power. By performing in regional idioms with rich associations for Maharashtrian congregations, singers of r=ashtr=iya k=irtan use music to combine political and religious signs in ways that seem natural and desirable, and as a result effectively promote embodied experiences of nationalist devotion. As the first monograph on music and Hindu nationalism, Singing a Hindu Nation presents a rare glimpse into the lives and performance worlds of nationalists on the margins of all-India political parties and cultural organizations. The book is an essential resource for ethnomusicologists, as well as scholars of South Asian studies, religion, and political theory.

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About the Author :


Anna Schultz earned the Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Illinois. She is an Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at Stanford University, where she works on Marathi kirtan, Indo-Caribbean music, paraliturgical Indian Jewish music, and country/bluegrass music.

Review :


"Anna Schultz has given us a rich and vibrant ethnomusicological study of an Indian performance art that has received little academic attention outside, or inside, India Scholars of Indian religion, politics, and political anthropology will find Schultz's book a vital text. Ethnomusicologists and others interested in theorizing the relationship between politics and performance will find Schultz's work path-breaking. Anyone attracted to lyrical, sharp ethnography of any part of the world will find Singing a Hindu Nation an enormously rewarding and enduring study."--Journal of the American Academy of Religion


"This remarkable and impressive book, which ably brings together such diverse disciplines as religious studies, political science, anthropology, history, and ethnomusicology, marks an important and distinctive contribution to scholarly discourse on the difficult topic of Hindutva, or Hindu nationalism." --Jeffery Long, Elizabethtown College, American Political Science Association


"Schultz's theorization of nationalism is far more nuanced than any that has so far been proposed for Indian classical music. It is historically engaged, ethnographically rich, theoretically sophisticated, and clearly born out of a rich personal history within the region. Schultz provides a window into a musical world that many had no idea existed, but that has, since its inception, provided a powerful locus for the formation of Hindu nationalism at the regional level. For these reasons, it will serve as a model of scholarship across many fields of inquiry."--Justin Scarimbolo, University of California, Santa Barbara


"Elegantly crafted, Singing a Hindu Nation is a historically grounded ethnography of the kirtan genre of singing and storytelling in Maharashtra, India. Exploring a spectrum of devotional performances, Schultz demonstrates the potency of kirtan in animating traditional aesthetic categories and manipulating public opinion. This timely work not only reveals a lesser known facet of Hindu nationalism, it contributes significantly to the growing body of scholarship delineating music's critical role in a variety of Indian modernist projects." --Richard K. Wolf, Professor of Music and South Asian Studies, Harvard University, author of Theorizing the Local: Music Practice and Experience in South Asia and Beyond (OUP, 2009)


"Singing a Hindu Nation is by far one of the best books on nationalism and the arts in modern India. Grounded in impeccable ethnographic detail, this fresh and wholly original work illustrates the affective power of Marathi kirtan by foregrounding its relationship to the state, radicalized forms of religion, and the historical imagination. Schultz's pathfinding work is a 'must read' for anyone interested in the cultural history of modern India." --Davesh Soneji, Associate Professor of South Asian Religions, McGill University


"Historically engaged, ethnographically rich, theoretically sophisticated, and clearly born out of a rich personal history within the region. Schultz provides a window into a musical world that many had no idea existed, but that has, since its inception, provided a powerful locus for the formation of Hindu nationalism at the regional level." --Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association


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