Kamath to Speak About: Brahmin Masculinity in Kuchipudi Dance

Harshita KamathOn Tuesday, September 18th, the South Asia Center is pleased to welcome associate professor, Harshita Mruthinti Kamath. Professor Kamath will be presenting a paper titled Impersonation and the Perils of Brahmin Masculinity. Impersonation, or the donning of a gender guise (vesam), is ubiquitous to the South Indian dance form of Kuchipudi.  For generations, hereditary brahmin men from the Kuchipudi village in Telugu South India have been donning a stri-vesam (woman’s guise), to enact female characters in dance dramas featuring Hindu religious themes. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in South India, the talk outlines analyzes the perils of brahmin masculinity in the Kuchipudi village and in transnational Kuchipudi dance. 

Harshita Mruthinti Kamath is Visweswara Rao and Sita Koppaka Assistant Professor in Telugu Culture, Literature, and History at Emory University.  She holds a Ph.D. in West and South Asian Religions from Emory University (2012) and a Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School (2006). Prior to joining the faculty at Emory, she taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2016-2018) and Middlebury College (2013-2014). Her monograph in press, Impersonations: The Artifice of Brahmin Masculinity in Kuchipudi Dance, examines centers on an insular community of Smarta Brahmin male dancers from the Kuchipudi village in Telugu-speaking South India who are required to don stri-vesam and impersonate female characters from Hindu religious narratives.

This event will take place at 12:30pm in 341 Eggers Hall. We hope that you’ll join us!