ILA DALMIA MEMORIAL LECTURE 2015 by sumnagala damodaran

The Radical Impulse: Music and Politics in the Tradition of the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA)

by Sumangala Damodaran
Associate Professor, SDS /SCCE, Ambedkar University

Moderated by Soumyabrata Choudhury
Associate Professor, TPS/SAA, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Date: 27 January 2015, 5:30 pm
Venue: School of Arts and Aesthetics Auditorium, JNU

In her talk, Sumangala Damodaran looks at the idea of the radical impulse in the arts and among artists in the first half of the twentieth century as a process of questioning and reorganising the aesthetic order to bear upon critical political questions of the time. Focusing specifically on music,  the lecture will bring out how this radical impulse not only politicised music but also addressed fundamental questions about the tasks, subjects and modes of representation in creative activity. The case of the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA) will be analysed to point towards some critical issues in understanding the relationship between music and politics.

Sumangala Damodaran is an economist and a musician, working at the Ambedkar University, Delhi, India and is associated with the School of Development Studies and the School of Culture and Creative Expressions. Holding a PhD in Economics and after a 17-year teaching career at Delhi University’s Lady Shri Ram College, she has been involved with the setting up of the School of Culture and Creative Expressions at Ambedkar University, Delhi which is a unique interdisciplinary arts education and practice initiative and has also, in recent years, been involved with research and teaching in Popular Music Studies in this capacity.

She has been involved in research and documentation of a forgotten musical tradition, that of the Indian People’s Theatre Association, from the 1940s and 1950s, which will soon be published as a book.  She also recently completed ‘Insurrections’, a poetry-musiccollaborative project between Indian and South African poets and musicians, which was performed at the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town in2012 and in the festival 'Poetry Africa' in 2013 and released as an audio CD in January 2013. Her most recent project is on a historical and musical exploration of the minor note based melodies resembling the Raga Bhairavi that can be heard across diverse cultures spanning from India to North Africa and Spain.

Soumyabrata Choudhury currently teaches at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU. He has previously taught at CSSSC, Kolkata and has been a fellow at CSDS, Delhi and IIAS, Shimla. His book Theatre, Number, Event: Three Studies on the Relationship of Sovereignty, Power and Truth was published by IIAS, Shimla in 2013.
THE ILA DALMIA MEMORIAL LECTURE is presented in conjunction with The Ila Dalmia FICA Research Grant, an annual grant given in support of research in the field of modern and contemporary art with particular focus on Indian art. The research grant and lecture series have been instituted with the support of art historian and curator Yashodhara Dalmia in the memory of the acclaimed writer and poet Ila Dalmia (1944-2003) and her lifelong support to the arts.