Social Scientist. v 26, no. 302-303 (July-August 1998) p. 21.


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MAIINIBHATTACHARYA*

Performance as Protest:

Cultural Strategies in the Era of 'Globaitsation' **

I am deeply grateful to Janam for having given me this unique opportunity of paying my tribute to the memory of Safdar Hashmi. My presentation starts from the assumption that while embedded in patterns of ideological dominance, performative forms also provide fractures and disjunctions, which can be used for subversive purposes. For those of us who see cultural forms as having thus inscribed into them the multifold tensions and conflicts of social-political formations, the relevance of Safdar as a cultural activist and a thinker, has increased in the so-called era of 'globalisation'. Let me recall for you some of Safdar' s own words on performative strategies at a time when the so-called process of 'globalisation' was jsut beginning in our country:

'...if theatre is to survive, it will consciously have to undettake the mission of combating the TV since it is destroying the very roots of community life and hence the roots of theatre. That it is managing to do so is again due to the weakness of our theatre and other public entertainments like dance and music. The need for a popular theatre, popular dancing and popular music concerts thus assumes a much greater significance/

Safdar Hashmi, The Right to Perform, SAHMAT, New Delhi.1

This was a time when the explosion in small-screen audio-visual media industry was just on its way. If Safdar had lived, I am sure he would have gone deeper into strategies of intervening into this particular medium as well. I do not think the fundamentalist solution of smashing up TV sets would have been his. The real relevance of the point he makes here is about breaking up the monopoly that is sought to be

* Jadavpur University, Jadavpur

** 1998 Safdar Hashmi Memorial Lecture, New Delhi

Social Scientist, Vol. 27, Nos. 7 - 8, July- August 1998



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