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Scroll Paintings & Bardic Poetry in Bengal
February 13, 2007 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
A lecture by Professor Frank Koro- Associate Professor of Religion & Anthropology, Boston University.
Frank Korom will explore the changing world of the Patuas, a community of itinerant scroll painters and singers residing in Medinipur District, West Bengal, India. These impoverished artists are adapting to modernity by expanding their repertoires to include contemporary social and political themes. Originally, they were Hindus who converted to Islam during the medieval period, but because they sing about Hindu gods and goddesses for Hindu patrons, they have not become fully accepted into the Muslim mainstream. Even though the tradition is changing rapidly as a result of modernity, Korom argues for a form of “alternative modernity,” which allows for change within the tradition while adhering to local aesthetic sensibilities. To demonstrate this “alternative modernity,” songs on modern themes sung in traditional meters will accompany photo illustrations.
Frank J. Korom is an Associate Professor of religion and anthropology at Boston University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992 for a dissertation on Dharmaraj, a local village deity worshipped in rural regions of West Bengal from medieval times to the present. He is a Guggenheim fellow and guest curator of the exhibition Village of Painters: Narrative Scrolls from West Bengal, which is currently showing at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico until April 29, 2007. His accompanying book by the same name was published by the Museum of New Mexico Press in 2006. The Roy C. Craven, Jr. Memorial Lecture is co-sponsored by the Center for the Study Hindu Traditions, and the Center for the Humanities in the Public Sphere, in cooperation with the Jerome A. Yavitz Charitable Foundation.