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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A time of passing things : an exploration of the decline and disappearance of the devadasi tradition through the medium of historical fiction Hunter, Lauren


Written in the form of an historical fiction, this thesis explores the multiple influences that were active in the lives of temple dancers in Southern India from 1861 to 1947. It addresses the question of whether or not the devadasis were prostitutes, placing this debate in the context of conflicting colonial, Hindu and reform movement pressures, influences directing the decline and disappearance of the temple dancing tradition. In gathering information about this period, I have drawn from three main sources: colonial literature of the time, modern feminist research, and dance scholarship on the nature and history of the technical aspects of temple dancing. My aim has been to reconstruct, as accurately as possible, a close approximation of a devadasi's life, and to compare how it differs from those lived by previous generations of temple dancers.

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