Musicophilia in Mumbai

Performing Subjects and the Metropolitan Unconscious

Book Pages: 256 Illustrations: 48 illustrations Published: February 2020

Asian Studies > South Asia, Cultural Studies, Music

In Musicophilia in Mumbai Tejaswini Niranjana traces the place of Hindustani classical music in Mumbai throughout the long twentieth century as the city moved from being a seat of British colonial power to a vibrant postcolonial metropolis. Drawing on historical archives, newspapers, oral histories, and interviews with musicians, critics, students, and instrument makers as well as her own personal experiences as a student of Hindustani classical music, Niranjana shows how the widespread love of music throughout the city created a culture of collective listening that brought together people of diverse social and linguistic backgrounds. This culture produced modern subjects Niranjana calls musicophiliacs, whose subjectivity was grounded in a social rather than an individualistic context. By attending concerts, learning instruments, and performing at home and in various urban environments, musicophiliacs embodied forms of modernity that were distinct from those found in the West. In tracing the relationship between musical practices and the formation of the social subject, Niranjana opens up new ways to think about urbanity, subjectivity, culture, and multiple modernities.


“Tejaswini Niranjana's beautifully written book gives us a glimpse into the ways in which Hindustani classical music enables distinct performances of modernity in a postcolonial context. She takes us on a fascinating journey across performative spaces while powerfully and subtly portraying the lives and struggles of musicians and showing how gender, caste, class, and religious identity refract their subjectivities. I greatly appreciate and am moved by the material she presents in this book.” — Purnima Mankekar, author of Unsettling India: Affect, Temporality, Transnationality

“In her highly accessible, enjoyable, and immensely informative book, Tejaswini Niranjana—an astute and sympathetic cultural theorist—weaves musical genealogies and musician biographies into rich descriptions of the lives, emotions, and lived spaces of musicians and their audiences. Her centering of enjoyment, pleasure, and love in the study of Hindustani music is refreshing. Beautifully written, Musicophilia in Mumbai will set the standard for new waves of scholarship on Hindustani music and India's other classical traditions.” — Anna Morcom, author of Illicit Worlds of Indian Dance: Cultures of Exclusion

"A fascinating journey across the city… Musicophilia in Mumbai will, undoubtedly, set the standard for more scholarship on Hindustani music as also India's other gharanas. Even if the study is deeply localized and empirically distinct, similar patterns can be traced elsewhere in South Asia. The book suggests that the relationship between cultural practice and the formation of the social subject can be expressed in many ways and many contexts—especially in the 'non-west.'" — Bhaskar Parichha, KITAAB


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Tejaswini Niranjana is Professor of Cultural Studies at Lingnan University and author of Mobilizing India: Women, Music, and Migration between India and Trinidad, also published by Duke University Press, and Siting Translation: History, Post-Structuralism, and the Colonial Context.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction. On Not Being Able to Learn Music  1
1. "Yaa Nagari Mein Lakh Darwaza": Musicophilia and the Lingua Musica in Mumbai  19
2. Mehfil (Performance): The Spaces of Music  46
3. Deewaana (The Mad One): The Lover of Music  86
4. Taleem: Pedagogy and the Performing Subject  128
5. Nearness as Distance, or Distance as Nearness  162
Afterword  181
Glossary  199
Notes  205
Selected Bibliography  227
Index  235
Sales/Territorial Rights: World exc South Asia

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0818-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0686-2