Kershan Vikram Pancham, Performing Bodies across gender, race and spirit borders in South Africa

Full working title: Performing Bodies across gender, race and spirit borders in South Africa. An ethnography of urban diversity focusing on Indian-African spirit-performers of tokoloshes, ufufunyane and nagara-pachara in relation to dis/possession in the KwaZulu-Natal region.

Kershan’s doctoral study will explore relationalities with and embodiments of spirits in Indian-African borderlands of KwaZulu-Natal, across race, gender, caste, sexuality, ethnicity, nation, corporeal and ecological dimensions with an attention to land dis/possession in Africa. Why and how do some cultures speak in the same vernacular with each other, as authentic interlocutors, of equal dignity and humanity, across the apparent differences that are supposed to matter? When does difference, drop?

Their fieldwork will be ethnographic and archival, and include tools from the arts, drama, theatre and performance studies. The significance of their project speaks to current debates in and across the disciplines of Anthropology, Political Ecology, History, Sociology, and the fields of African Studies, South Asian Studies, Indian Ocean Studies, Dalit Studies, Queer Studies, Heritage Studies, Postcolonial Studies, with an aim for public impact to nurture and a less abusive society. In keeping with their previous work traditions, the outputs will include theatre, performance, and film to share research outcomes across the borders of academic institutions.

Researcher supervising: 
Other supervisor(s): 
Dr Sam Spiegel (Edinburgh University)
Project status: 
Countries, location: