Folk-Colonial Critique: Legendary Pasts and the Present in Kutiyattam Sanskrit Theater


Leah Lowthorp (University of Oregon)

Studies of Indian folklore were historically dominated by the agenda of British colonizers. Sadhana Naithani has significantly argued for the importance of undertaking an “axis jump” in perceptions of colonial relations by seeking out evidence in the colonial archive of folk commentary upon and criticism of colonization. This paper engages in one such “axis jump” by considering folk criticism of British colonialism evidenced in the Legend of the Englishman and the Dog. Still orally circulated today by the Kutiyattam Sanskrit theater community in Kerala, India, this paper explores the varied meanings and local perspectives of colonialism that the legend reveals.

Part of 34-01 Decolonizing Folklore II, Wednesday, October 20, 2:15 pm–3:45 pm