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Mukharji, Manjita (2009) Reading the metaphors in Baul songs : Some reflections on the social history of rural colonial Bengal. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis breaks with existing scholarship on the Bauls by moving away from an exclusive interrogation of their esoteric beliefs and practices. Instead, we forestage the socio-historical dimensions of metaphors found in Baul songs. Rather than using these metaphors as keys to unlock the esoteric registers of Baul praxis, we see how the metaphors themselves are drawn from and mediated by the Baul singer-composers' locations in history and society. In the Introduction of the thesis, we sensitise the reader to the history and politics of the particular frames used by song-collectors through which the songs-our primary material-have become available to us. Thereafter, we develop our enquiry through five specific case-studies. In each case-study, i.e. those of gender, agrarian relations, domestic space, transportation and spatiality, we look at clusters of metaphors around each of these themes and see how the metaphors themselves reveal clues to both the specificities of the Baul singer-composers' socio-historical locations and their experiences of these locations. Throughout these studies we remain interested in how Baul singer-composers as members of a larger rural society resist and/or negotiate with the structures of domination. In conclusion, we argue that not only is their resistance intimately tied up with their specific socio-historical experiences-which they often also share with non-Baul contemporaries-but also that both their experiences and their modes of resistance are themselves shifting and historically contingent. Thus, just as we find several shifting layers in their resistance to structures of power, similarly we find multiple shifting locations for their experiential body.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:02

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