Gender, new creativity and Carnatic music in London

2019-02-01T10:59:09Z (GMT) by Jasmine Hornabrook
This article examines creative projects amongst second-generation, Tamil diasporic female musicians (focused on British Sri Lankan examples) located within London’s Carnatic music scene. Several scholars have suggested that the twentieth-century Indian nationalist project constructed ideals of femininity that positioned women to uphold the inner core of Indian culture as bearers of tradition during colonial rule (Bakrania 2013; Chatterjee 1989), and which were also reflected in the restricted performance and creativity of Carnatic music for female musicians (Subramanian 2006; Weidman 2003). This article focuses on second-generation musicians, who combine their Carnatic background and ‘South Indian’ sound with other everyday sounds in Britain. Their creative projects shift from an aesthetic that was responsive to colonialism in India to highlight female creativity and hybridity in decolonizing processes. This article presents examples of how cultural expectations of women as bearers of tradition are decentred, repositioning them as creative agents in a transnational diaspora.