Talk on 'Radical Uneven Tones and the Possibilities for Politics in Bhimrao Dhondiba Kardak's Ambedkari Jalsa' | Shiv Nadar University
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Talk on 'Radical Uneven Tones and the Possibilities for Politics in Bhimrao Dhondiba Kardak's Ambedkari Jalsa'

Event Date: 
Thursday, November 10, 2022 -

The Department of Sociology invites you to a talk titled ‘Radical Uneven Tones and the Possibilities for Politics in Bhimrao Dhondiba Kardak’s Ambedkari Jalsa’ by Dr. Urmila Bhirdikar, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology. Part of the Sociology Thursday Seminar Series, the talk is scheduled for 10 Nov at 12:00 PM; D330.


Abstract :

Bhimrao Dhondiba Kardak (1904-1990) migrated to Bombay/Mumbai in 1924 in search of work and further education. Inspired by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s work and words, he participated in the satyagraha for accessing the public water tank (1927) and for temple entry (1930). In 1934, he, along with his friends, established the organization Nasik Zilla Yuvak Sangh Sangit Jalsa which operated as a repertory theatre troupe producing musical plays (jalsa) for disseminating Ambedkar’s thought for the next two decades.

In earlier instances of feminist scholarship on anti-caste struggle, Jalsa, considered as political theatre, exemplifies the representation of a heteronormative respectability in the performance of which the dalit hereditary woman actor-singer of the Tamasha is rejected because of the stigma of hyper-sexuality and sexual promiscuity. Very recently, conceding the arguments about the production of the stigmatized dalit Tamasha artist, Shailaja Paik opposes the “savarna” feminist understanding of the Ambedkarite heteronormative respectability by focusing on the dalit struggle for right to humanity and exemplifying Jalsa as the pedagogic theatre for performing humanity in which dalit respectable gender is both different and decentered a propos the urgency of the struggle for the right to humanity . All scholars of Jalsa forefront the musical aspect of Jalsa and draw upon the linguistic contents of the songs for exemplifying their theses.

In my presentation, I ask is gender really de-centered in Kardak’s Jalsa?  Drawing upon the context of the Jalsa and concepts and frames in music and sound studies I show music’s capacity to produce gender in singing and listening practices. Further, opposing the reliance on the gender binary in the above scholarship I exemplify the power of the theatre of female impersonation to illuminate the gender question differently. Finally, I will also attempt to bring these themes together by drawing upon the idea of “acoustic justice” for the work of ‘reorientation” by Brandon Labell to understand the deep concerns of anti-caste struggle.


Urmila Bhirdikar teaches Sociology in Shiv Nadar IoE. She trained in Literary Studies, Sociology and Hindustani Khayal. Her teaching and research interests are in the discourses of respectability and self-respect, privilege and dispossession and gender and sexuality. She approaches these themes through sounds and printed words in English, Marathi, Kannada, Gujarati and Hindi. She writes in and translates between English and Marathi.

Thursday 10, Nov 2022
12:00 AM - 12:00 PM