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Benil Biswas

Assistant Professor

M. Phil, Theatre & Performance Studies, School of Arts & Aesthetics, JNU, New Delhi

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Affiliation

School of Culture and Creative Expressions

Education & Research

He is a performer and scholar, who was trained in Literature with BA and MA from Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira College (University of Calcutta) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi respectively. After MA, he went on to pursue his area of research in Theatre and Performance Studies at School of Arts & Aesthetics, JNU, New Delhi. While doing his M.Phil he joined academics and taught Literature for three years first as guest and then as Adhoc faculty at various degree colleges at Delhi University including Lady Shri Ram College for Women. His M.Phil dissertation was about the initiation of a fresh approach towards the concept and definition of people’s art in India, mapping the north east part of India from early days of IPTA to the contemporary political concerns.

At present, he is working on his doctoral thesis that broadly concern the convergences and divergences between theatre historiography, aesthetics of the oppressed, performativity, displaced population, idea of community, citizenship and identity, with special reference to Independence movement in India, Partition of Bengal and Caste question. In this project, he proposes to examine the idea of Performance as Kinesis, and the possibilities of writing histories from corporealities of the minoritarian perspectives, where mostly the absence of written sources facilitates one to approach history from the embodied lived experiences of performance.

He is also a visual artist with a Shilpa-Visharad in Fine Arts from Sarbabharatiya Sangeet-O-Sanskriti Parishad, Calcutta and is also associated with Bahroop Arts Group, New Delhi for the last six years in various capacities.

Degree
 

 

Institute/

College/

University

Year

Subjects/

area of Interest

PhD, Theatre & Performance Studies School of Arts & Aesthetics, JNU, New Delhi Pursuing
  • Towards An Alternative Aesthetics in Performance Traditions of the Namasudra
M. Phil, Theatre & Performance Studies School of Arts & Aesthetics, JNU, New Delhi 2011
  • Rabha Theatre and Performance: Towards An Alternative Aesthetics in Post 90’s People’s Theatre of the North East.
M.A. (English) Centre for English Studies,
SLL&CS, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
2008
  • English (with focus on Post-colonialism, dramatic literature and theatrical mainfestations)
  •  
B.A. (English Hons.) Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira, Belur Math, University of Calcutta. 2006
  • English (Hons.)

 

Courses designed and taught

  • Usually teach any the following six courses at the Postgraduate (MA) level, at Ambedkar University, Delhi:
  • Theories of Performance I & II
  • Body in Performance
  • Reading and Decoding Performance
  • Research Methods in Performance Studies
  • Uses of Tradition(s): Performances in India
  • Performance and the Social
  • Usually teach any of the following three courses at the Undergraduate (BA) level:
  • Introduction to Culture and Creative Expressions.
  • Critical Perspectives on Creative Explorations.
  • Introduction to Social Science & Humanities

As a future project, he is planning to look at national memorials in India associated with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi as ‘sites’ where national mourning is performed for the tourists in a bid to re-enact the trauma of nation’s violent history. Once again, what is of interest in the ritualization of these secular historical figures in contemporary theatre, where the national memory is enacted through the ritualized memory in form of mourning. A sense of loss binds people of nation together in a kind of bond, with a potential for the creation of a political unconscious.

Keywords that define his research and scholarly interests: Aesthetics and Theatre of the Oppressed, Aurality, Corporeality and Visuality in Performance, Critical Theory and Cultural Studies, Comparative Performance Studies, Cultural Policy, Performance Theory, Political Theology, Theatre Historiography, Traditional and Popular South Asian Performance.

Past Employment

  • Teaching Experience of more than six years ranging from undergraduate to research levels as under:
  • Employed as Assistant Professor (AD-HOC) at the Department of English, Lady Shri Ram College For Women, Delhi University (2011-2012).
  • Employed as a guest faculty in the Department of English, Dyal Singh College (EVE), DU and Deshbandhu College (EVE), DU for Academic session 2010-2011 and 2009-2010 respectively.
  • Worked as an Academic Counsellor with Department of English, IGNOU (Indira Gandhi National Open University) session 2009-2010 (DBC centre)
  • Worked as observer with IGNCA (Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts) in the project – Ramkatha: Ankan, Baachan aur Manchan, Observed the performances: Wrote a synopsis on the whole process – seminar and performances.
  • External Examiner of Dissertation for Post Graduate Diploma in Conflict Transformation and Peace Building, offered at Lady Shri Ram College for Women
  • Anver, Asnah. From War to Peace: Reporting a Military Victory.
  • Worked with PRATHAM, as an intern for a period of two months (2008) conducted interviews of some eminent authors and linguists, Member of the Read India Content Group., Prepared cards on 1857.
  • Worked as a translator with Linguamart (2007-08), Important assignments- Covering UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s visit to India in 2008 and transcribing his speech for UNIC. Transcribing and translating text of the woman auto rickshaw driver activist and her proposal for rights.
  • Occasionally compose and translate poetry and drama.

Publications

  • Publications/Seminars/ Lectures
  • As resource person, invited to present/perform “Orality, Aurality and Embodied Memories: Historicizing Caste through Namasudra Performance at the XIXth International Oral History Association Conference at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bengaluru, India from 27th June to 1st July 2016.
  • Article: Reverberations of Badungduppa: Between Identity, Ecology and Theatre (Published in NEzine, 27.02.2016)http://nezine.com/info/Reverberations%20of%20Badungduppa: %20Between%20Identity,%20Ecology%20and%20Theatre
  • Delivered a lecture ‘Historicising Caste in Bengal through Namasudra Performance’ at Theatre History Colloquium at SAA, JNU in collaboration with University of cologne, Germany, 12th to 19th Feb, 2016.
  • Article: Manipuri theatre on the crossroads of time. (Published in The Hindu Blink, 05.02.2016)
  • http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/blink/cover/manipuri-theatre-on-the-crossroads-of-time/article8197594.ece
  • As resource person, was invited to be part of the panel discussion II: Academic-Activist Dialogue and presented paper “Performing Fragmented Identity: Namasudra, Dalit, Indian, Bengali?” at “Identities, Mobility and Well-Being”: National workshop cum Orientation programme for Researchers and Faculty Members from SC/ST and other Marginalised Groups, A joint initiative of ICSSR-ERC and Dept. of Sociology, St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, 26-27, September, 2015
  • Delivered a series of lectures “Culture and its Relevance: World Perspective to India Perspective” at Fore School of Management, New Delhi, 18-26 June 2015.
  • As resource person, presented a Plenary Paper “Rastra-o- Rajyer anginaye Sambhu Mitra-r Baktityo ebong Natya-chinta”, at UGC sponsored National Seminar, at PCM College, Kolkata, West Bengal, April, 10-11, 2015.
  • Presented a paper “Architectonics of an Archive: Preparation to Performance and Beyond in Kalakshetra Manipur’s Samnadraba Mami” at Documenting Asian Art and Performance: Embodied Knowledge, Virtuality & the Archive conference, University of the Arts, Helsinki., December 3-5, 2014.
  • As a delegate attended the “National Theatre Seminar” organised by Minerva Natyasanskriti Charchakendra, Kolkata, West Bengal, from 16th – 20th July 2014.
  • Attended “Source of Performance Energy” (S.O.P.E.) workshop for actors, at Adishakti Laboratory for Theatre Arts and Research, Pondicherry, India from 15th to 25th of June 2014.
  • As resource person/participant attended the International Theatre Exposition titled “Encounter: An Exposition of Kanhailal-Sabitri’s Theatre, 2014” at Manipur University, Imphal, Manipur, 26-30 March 2014.
  • Judged “Bhaasha” – the multilingual one-act play inter-college competition, as part of “Daastan’14”– the first national theatre fest organised by Shakespeare Sabha, the Multilingual Dramatics Society of St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University, 22-25 February 2014.
  • Colloquium Coordinator at the “6th International Theatre Festival of Kerala (ITFOK)” organised by Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi (KSNA), Dept of Culture, Govt. of Kerala, Thrissur, 27 Jan – 3 Feb 2014.
  • Delivered a series of lectures “Culture and its Relevance: World Perspective to India Perspective” at Fore School of Management, New Delhi, 18-26 June 2013.
  • As expert scholar/participant attended the NINASAM Theatre Residency and Study Tour at NINASAM, Heggodu, Karnataka organised by India Theatre Forum, Mumbai, 12 – 18 May 2013.
  • Presented paper at the National Workshop on “Fixity and Fluidity: History, Politics and Culture of North East India”, organised by North East India Studies Programme (NEISP), JNU. New Delhi, 18-19 March 2013.
  • As an expert/scholar was invited by India Foundation for the Arts, IFA, Bengaluru to evaluate new theatre and performance practice in Assam, 2011-2012.
  • Presented paper at the International Commonwealth Studies Conference at Kakatiya University, Warangal, Andhra Pradesh, India (December 16th- 18th, 2010)
  • Presented paper at the 18th International Congress of Aesthetics at Peking University, Beijing, People’s Republic of China (August 9th - 13th, 2010)
  • Presented paper at the 15th Annual International Pedagogy & Theatre of the Oppressed conference, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA (May 18th- 24th, 2009)
  • Presented paper at the 5th Annual Conference of ISTR (Indian Society for Theatre Research), on Language(s) of Theatre at SAA, JNU, N Delhi-67 (January 28th-30th 2009)
  • Recent papers include:
  • “Rabha Theatre: Dukh Ki Bhasa” Janmat, Allahabad, Dec,2009
  • “Creating a dialogue between Post-Dramatic Theatre and The Theatre of the Oppressed: A Book Review”.
  • “Political Performance/Performing Politics: The Kachahari (theatre) of Nepal”

Professionl Activities/Awards

Fellowship:

  • Mellon School of Theater & Performance Research, Harvard University, Massachusetts, USA. (2016)
  • University Grants Commission- National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET) in English, June 2010 for lectureship.
  • Pedagogy & Theater of the Oppressed (PTO) Foundation, Omaha, Nebraska, USA. (2009)
  • UGC-Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship (RGNF) for MPhil-PhD in TPS, SAA, JNU. (2008)

Awards/Grants/Honours:

  • As resource person, invited to a panel discussion on “Facets of Indian Art & Culture: Books by Publications Division” with Smt. Kapila Vatsayan, scholar, author and critic Smt. Leela Venkataraman, scholar, author and critic; Shri Irfan Zuberi, Chairperson, Steering Committee on Arts Management, Ministry of Culture and Project Manager, National Cultural Audiovisual Archives, IGNCA; Chair: Shri B.P. Singh, former Governor, Sikkim on the occasion of the release of four books by Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 2 December, 2015.
  • As resource person, was invited to be part of the panel discussion II: Academic-Activist Dialogue and presented paper “Performing Fragmented Identity: Namasudra, Dalit, Indian, Bengali?” at “Identities, Mobility and Well-Being”: National workshop cum Orientation programme for Researchers and Faculty Members from SC/ST and other Marginalised Groups, A joint initiative of ICSSR-ERC and Dept. of Sociology, St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, 26-27, September, 2015.
  • Invitation as resource person, Chair of presentation session and a Plenary Paper “Rastra-o- Rajyer anginaye Sambhu Mitra-r Baktityo ebong Natya-chinta”, at UGC sponsored National Seminar Satabarsey Sambhu Mitra, at PCM College, Kolkata, West Bengal, April, 10-11, 2015. It included a travel, boarding and lodging grant by the organiser.
  • Ambedkar University Travel Grant to join the Documenting Asian Art and Performance: Embodied Knowledge, Virtuality & the Archive conference, University of the Arts, Helsinki., Finland, December 3-5, 2014.
  • Minerva Natyasanskriti Charchakendra Fooding, Lodging and Travel Grant to attend the National Theatre Seminar, July 2014.
  • Ambedkar University Travel Grant to join International Exposition of Kanhailal’s Theatre at Manipur, March 2014 and Theatre Residency at Ninasam, May 2013.
  • Travel Grant to present a paper at 18th International Congress of Aesthetics at Peking University, Beijing, China (August 9th - 13th, 2010) from JNU. (2010)
  • Travel Grant to present a paper at the 15th Annual International Pedagogy & Theatre of the Oppressed conference, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. (May 18th- 24th, 2009) from ICSSR. (2009)
  • NCC Best Cadet in College (2005), B & C certificate in National Cadet Corps (NCC) AIRWINGS.(2006)
  • Awarded ‘A’ Grade in Basic Mountaineering Course, at NIM, Uttarkashi, UK. (2005)
  • Shilpa-Visharad in Fine Arts conferred by Sarba Bharatiya Sangeet -O- Kala Parishad.

Administrative Positions Held/Participation in the Corporate Life of Educational Institutions

  • Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Observer, CTET Exam 2016 held on 21.02.2016.
  • CBSE Observer, CTET Exam 2015 held on 20.09.2015.
  • CBSE Observer, UGC-NET Exam 2015 held on 28.06.2015.
  • CBSE Observer, JEE Main 2015 held on 5.04.2015.
  • Convenor, Co-Curricular Activities Committee, AUD, 2015- 2016.
  • Member of the AUD Website Task Force, 2014 – December, 2015
  • Member, SUS Foundation Courses revamp Committee, 2014 – 2015
  • Member, SUS, Academic Coordination Committee, 2014 – 2016.
  • Member, SLS, Academic Coordination Committee, 2014- 2016.
  • Joint Coordinator of BA English Honours Program, SUS, 2014 – 2016.
  • Member of the AUD Anti-Ragging Committee and Anti-Ragging Squad, 2014 – 2015.
  • Coordinator of the ICCE (Introduction to Culture and Creative Expressions), Course for the Undergraduates, 2014-December, 2015 and CPCE (Critical Perspectives on Creative Explorations) 2015-2016.
  • Convenor of the Theatre Society at Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD), 2013- 2015.
  • External member to the School of Undergraduate Studies (SUS) Admission Committee, 2013 – 2016.
  • Member of the ECA admission screening committee, 2012 – December, 2015.
  • Member of the Admission Committee of School of Culture and Creative Expressions (SCCE), 2012-2015.
  • Member of the Scholarship Committee of School of Culture and Creative Expressions (SCCE), 2012-2015.
  • Member of IT User Committee at Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD), since 2012-2016.
  • ERP facilitator for School of Culture and Creative Expressions (SCCE), since 2012-December 2015.
  • Member of School of Undergraduate Studies (SUS) Scholarship Committee, 2012-2013.
  • Convenor of the Theatre Society at Lady Shri Ram College since 2011-2012.
  • Member of International Association of Aesthetics (IAA), since 2010 -
  • Treasurer of Bahroop Arts Group, since 2008- 2015
  • Member of Indian Society for Theatre Research (ISTR), since 2008-

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