Performing Ethnographic Encounters: Walking in Contemporary Delhi
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Abstract available and open to all, rest of the thesis permanently embargoed.
Reason for embargo
Due to commercially sensitive material and to protect the anonymity of sources, this thesis is permanently embargoed.
This thesis is an attempt to interrogate the relationship between everyday walking and the contemporary Indian city, specifically the contemporary cultural and geographical space of Delhi--—a postcolonial city that functions simultaneously as a “global” city and a “walled city” (King, Spaces). While walking as performance art is of increasing relevance in the contemporary Indian city, the scope of this project restricts itself to examining the nature of everyday walking and its ties to everyday life, heritage and urban memory. Engaging with walking as a form of performance ethnography, this thesis considers a range of walks—heritage walks, commemorative memory walks and a form of the Situationist dérive—in the contemporary city of Delhi to ask: What can walking as an activity of performance ethnography tell us about how architecture, violence and the urban imagination dictate our lives that urban form and histories alone cannot? What is the relationship between forms of urban memory, everyday life, and heritage in an Indian city—Delhi, in this case—and how do the various kinds of walks inform this relationship? What are the various kinds of walks that emerge in response to and dialogue with site, and how do New and Old Delhi serve as models for this? This thesis is primarily about everyday walking practices in urban India, but in becoming so, it also attempts to crucially interrogate walking as ethnography as well as the practice of ethnography itself, specifically performance ethnography. It argues that some of the productive ways to engage with these practices are by re/considering walking as a practice of performance ethnography of the city, through the selective lenses of everyday life, heritage and urban memory.
PhD in Drama