2012 | 14 | 193-213
Article title

Caste in the making, dance in the making

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The present paper is based on fieldwork in Pushkar (Rajasthan) with the Kalbelia caste: traditionally associated with snake charming, it has recently been turning its own musical and dance heritage into a distinguishing feature of Rājasthānī folklore. This paper, through the description of the ethnohistory of Kalbelia dance leads to some considerations concerning the social status of female professional dancers in modern Indian society. The present social status of female professional dancers will be here described as an outcome of the past British colonial presence in India. The analysis will prove how the colonial past continues to haunt the Indian social and cultural present. Besides, through this case study, it will be argued that caste is not the unchanging, historically frozen structure as ethnographic imagination has largely presented it. On the contrary, caste will be considered to be the product of a dynamic balance ruled by economic, ideological and cultural requests.
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