My research project is related to the migration of oral traditions across and beyond South Asian borders. I am particularly interested in the history of the journey of Bengali oral literature and folklore before and after Partition, its transformations and its resettlement in different areas.
In short, the constant flow of Bengali refugees that started around 1946 brought a number of oral and performative traditions across and beyond the West Bengal borders. Displaced and re-settled East Bengali communities maintained their indigenous cultural traditions in new territories, while negotiating them with the local flavour, genres and audiences.
These problematic aspects at the cross-roads between folklore, religion and
diaspora, have not found the attention they deserved within the academic transdisciplinary study of South Asia. My research project is directed towards the study of the Bengali cultural diaspora from 1946 to 2016 in two specific geographical areas: West Bengal and the Andaman Islands, which represent the most dense areas of resettlement for East Bengali refugees. How did the memory of displacement recover and relocate their poetic and musical sensibility? What is the role of the East Bengali exodus in propagating folk-religions and oral traditions in present-day India? To what extent did these phenomena of relocated folklore sustain and enrich the development of Bengali oral traditions? My research aims to propose some possible answers for such questions, while representing a response and a complement to the recent scholarship dedicated to the memories and narratives of Partition, mainly evidenced with literature and films. This loophole reflects a broader neglect towards the East Bengali population in India, historically subjected to open as well as implicit discrimination.
- Bengali literature
- oral literature and folklore; religion
- healing and performance in South Asia
Country of origin
Period of stay at IIAS
Folklore, religion and diaspora: the migration of oral traditions across and beyond the East Bengal border