The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

An Anthropological Study of the Transformation of South Asian Performing Arts in the Age of Globalization

Joint Research Coordinator MATSUKAWA Kyoko

Reserch Theme List


This project brings an anthropological perspective to clarifying the changing position of the performing arts in South Asia, in the context of globalization and changes in the region’s politics, economics, and societies. As the region entered the 21st century, social change initiated by India’s economic liberalization in 1990 was well-advanced. The appearance of South Asian ritual, theater, dance, music and other performing arts in a growing variety of media, combined with the effects of migration, led to wider acceptance and increasing consumption. While the performances themselves and the economic position of the performers underwent major changes, these arts spread outside the region and examples of reverse importation occurred. This research shows how performers come to participate in networks that transcend their traditional relationships and begin to rethink and expand the boundaries of South Asian performing arts. It reveals how contemporary performers develop new aesthetic sensibilities and modes of performance in response to audience and consumer tastes and find themselves under pressure by management and marketing adapted to free-market principles. It illustrates the process by which, while responding to new demands, they continue to reproduce traditional forms of performance and social relations.