I am a theatre and performance studies scholar who is interested in an interdisciplinary approach to examining performance. My primary research areas focus on South Asian performances and the diaspora, interdisciplinary research emphasizing identity and digital storytelling, and community-based performance practices. My research critically reflects my background in theatre and performance, elucidating my journey from India to the United States to study the discursive nature of theatre. My creative pursuits are informed by my research and explore non-traditional and non-canonical performance practices, such as digital performances and culture-specific Bengali performance of jatra from India. Moreover, my research and creative interests demonstrate my scholarly interaction with diverse disciplines, resulting in inclusive pedagogy.
My dissertation, "Conscience on Stage: Revising Jatra in Bengal as a Tool for Representation, Restoration, and Revolution," draws from the evolution of the Bengali performance form jatra from a religious celebration to a secular and provocative form of theatre both socially and politically charged to support grassroots engagement. My dissertation examines one of the most distinctive features of jatra, the anthropomorphizing of the "conscience," commonly known as the bibek. This is a character type that can interrupt the action to grant expression to various characters' perspectives through song and provide larger ethical commentary on the action of the drama as it corresponds to relevant local issues. By employing the postcolonial notion of hybridity, I investigate how this character type allows us to understand contemporary jatra from within its colonial roots.
I am currently in conversation with a publication house for my monograph and developing a book proposal for this project, in which I focus on the 21st-century jatra performance, emphasizing caste and class relationships in West Bengal, India.
Talking to Shekh Madhusudan (87-year-old), the bibek of jatra.
Field work 2019
Sen, Jashodhara. “Mothering the Pandemic through the Interface of Ritual and Performance.” Performance, Religion, and Spirituality, Vol. 3 No. 2 (2021): 78-90.
Sen, Jashodhara. “Renegotiating Home Through the Digital Storytelling Platform: Leaving Home, Finding Home.” Renegotiating Home Texas Theatre Journal 17 (2020): 81–94.
Sen, Jashodhara. “Advocating for the Rejuvenation of Jatra Performance.” Ecumenica 12, no. 1 (2019): 28-36. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/ecumenica.12.1.0028.
Sen, Jashodhara. “The Conscience Man of Jatra: A Conversation with Shekh Madhusudan on Jatra’s Hybrid Identity Formation.” Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 33, no. 2 (2019): 97-107. doi:10.1353/dtc.2019.0006.
I translate jatra scripts from Bengali to English. I acknowledge that a lot can be lost when translated from the original language to English, especially when translating jatra scripts, a performance form, which is intrinsically Bengali. I primarily translate the scripts for the classroom to introduce my students to the rich jatra repertoire. Alongside, I urge my students to recognize the culture-specific performance forms, their struggles, and resilience to survive in Euro-American universities.
You can find the sample translation of episode I, scene I, from Nati Binodini (1973) by jatra maestro Brojendra Kumar Dey.
DISCLAIMER: do not reproduce without permission.
Students of THE 6525 Theatre History/Literature/Criticism learning about jatra
Leaving Home, Finding Home is a digital storytelling space by and for the immigrant women from South Asia residing in the United States (South Asian countries: India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Maldives, and Sri Lanka). As a South Asian academic, immigrant, and digital archivist for this platform, I invite women who identify as South Asian to share their powerful stories related to immigration, identity, freedom, and equality.
Through this website, we can claim a collective identity while still celebrating our differences. I am creating this platform to better understand and to collectively negotiate our evolving identities as immigrants. I envision this forum as a powerful new performance space to invigorate an exchange on issues immigration specific for women from South Asia to the US.
How can you participate?
You, the storyteller/performer, can use various mediums, such as writing your story or experience, submitting a video, a sound file, and photos to ensure that you retain agency and ownership of your own experiences. By contributing your story to “Leaving Home, Finding Home,” your story will be a part of a peer-reviewed, published collection of oral narratives. Scalar as a platform allows the users to incorporate media into the text.
Scalar works as a media interface that is structured like a book. By browsing through the project site and following the table of contents in the upper left corner of the page, you can easily navigate the project and explore the interconnecting paths that will allow you to access other projects on the website.
Here’s my story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwdj_KCW2Zc