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Ohio State Dance welcomes Postdoctoral Scholar Sinjini Chatterjee

May 24, 2024

Ohio State Dance welcomes Postdoctoral Scholar Sinjini Chatterjee

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Ohio State Dance welcomes Postdoctoral Scholar Sinjini Chatterjee to the department in autumn 2024. Chatterjee holds a PhD in Critical Dance Studies from the University of California, Riverside. Her research traces interdependence between Odissi dance (A South Asian ‘classical’ dance style) and other non-classical folk, tribal, and ritualist performance practices of Odisha. Chatterjee has trained for 15 years in Odissi dance under the guidance of Smt. Aloka Kanungo, and has performed widely in India and the United Kingdom. 

Chatterjee’s research lies at the intersection of caste, class, gender, and performance politics in South Asia. In the past decade there has been significant scholarly work on Indian ‘classical’ dance that illustrates these forms’ relationship to the Indian state. However, there exists a lacuna in critiquing the category of ‘classical’ and on examining interconnections between classical and indigenous dance forms. Her research investigates inequalities, hierarchies, and epistemic violence in Indian dance practices, focusing on the vexed category of ‘classical’ which was formed at the nexus of Indian nationalism, colonial modernity, economic inequality, and caste-based violence. Indian Classical Dance exploits the marginalized folk and ritual dancer’s body in order to generate economic and cultural capital. Following this, Chatterjee’s ethnography and archival analysis based project studies contemporary choreographies of Odissi (a South-Asian ‘classical’ dance) choreographers who incorporate these marginalized dance-forms into their choreographies. Alongside, it traces the history of the marginalized performance practices of Odisha (a state in Eastern India) through oral narratives and movement repertoire of the underrepresented artist communities. In studying the history of the marginalized performances and the contemporary ‘classical dance’ choreographies which incorporate these performances, her dissertation reveals previously overlooked performance histories, highlights the contribution of caste-class oppressed artists in forming the cultural heritage of India, and strives to develop a theoretical framework of decoloniality with regards to Indian performance practices. 

At the University of California, Riverside, Chatterjee has received multiple fellowships for her research, including the Dean’s Fellowship, multiple Gluck Program of the Arts Award, and the Department of Dance Graduate Fellowship, and the Dissertation of the Year Award. Chatterjee’s works have been previously published in the Dance Research Journal. Chatterjee’s works have been presented at various international conferences such as the European Association of South Asian Studies, Italy; Memory Studies Association, Spain; Goldsmiths, University of London, UK; King’s College London, UK; Annual Conference on South Asia at Wisconsin-Madison, USA; Odissi dance Conference, University of North Carolina at Charlotte; USA, and International Federation for Theatre Research, Philippines. 

“I am extremely excited to join as the Postdoctoral Scholar in Dance at The Ohio State University. I am grateful to the faculty and students to give me the opportunity. I am looking forward to creating cross departmental exchanges and collaborations with the community residing there. One of my many goals is to think about the oral narratives, movement repertoires, and gestural repertoire of South Asian and other marginalized, minoritized dancers, focusing on how their oral and corporeal vocabularies negotiate with recorded nationalist histories.”