Folklore: Searching for Logistics

CULTURATION, pp. 26-34, U.N. Singh, ed., CIIL, 2001 
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This paper mainly concentrates on the (a) genesis of Folklore as a colonial subject, where subjectification of a discipline as well as subjection (in Foucauldian sense of the term) of an exonymous group called “folk” has taken place; (b) non-tenable distinction between folk-drama and classical theater that otherwise reflects the power-relation; (c) examination of the oral-written distinction in course of distinguishing between folk and non-folk.

As (a) was elaborated in Bandyopadhyay (1995, 1999), the logistics of the hypothesis will be briefly discussed in the section-1, reiterating only the main arguments; Bandyopadhyay (1995, 1999, 2000) showed the illegitimacy and mythical (in Bartheian sense of the term, which is “at a time true and unreal”) character of Folk language and folksong-classical song dichotomy. This is further elaborated here concentrating on the folk-drama and classical theater distinction on the basis of subsumption-hypothesis. Thus (b) will be elaborated in section -2. Section- 3 questions the literate-illiterate distinction to discuss (c); The construction of the category "folk" was born out of super-ordinate's gaze that de-sign-ates otherness in the form of a discipline. The dichotomous divisions between folk-non-folk, tribe-non-tribe, sastriya-loukika typically reflect the colonial pedagogy that constituted otherness by deploying different exonyms to peripheral other ignoring the ethno/endonyms as used by subalterns. In fact, these divisions between dominant centre and dominated periphery gave birth to some surrogated subjects like "Folklore" or "Anthropology" in contrast to the white men's epistemological fields like History, Sociology or Physiology. These subjects subjectify as well as objectify dominated and peripheral "other" in the way of surrogating "human beings". Reiterating the "logic" (!) of such dividing practices from Bandyopadhyay, 1995, literate-illiterate or oral-spoken dichotomy will be (re) examined by analyzing the epistemological discourse on such divisions.

The problem is with the imaginative boundary between this dichotomy. One must keep in mind, from the standpoint of enlightened science, that the limit or boundary of different epistemological fields needs to be enumerated or well defined, i.e., in this case, determination of folk drama and non-folk-drama must be determined according to the existing enlightened logic. However the construction of such boundary, diachronically, is not always transparent, but rather fuzzy; and on the other hand it reflects a tension (this tension will be revealed in section-3) of maintaining the boundary, though it cannot eliminate the fuzziness of boundaries.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 5

Keywords: Colonialism and disciplinary technology



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