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Changing Status in India's Marginal Music Communities



The renegotiation of the performance of an instrument or genre associated with pollution or a degraded social status has been a significant theme in recent ethnomusicological literature on marginalized Indian music communities. These communities include Dalits (outcastes), lower castes, devadasis (hereditary temple dancers), women, and rural poor. Through a review of this literature and film production, I describe four positions taken by these communities and the impact on performance that these changes have brought: (i) discontinuance and rejection, (ii) replacement, (iii) maintenance of performance, yet rejection of caste or community duties, and (iv) reclamation of the music and identity as creditable.