State, Tourism, and Heritage: Kalbeliya in its pre-recognition phase in India

This project explores the processes and politics of inclusion of Kalbeliya dance in UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. 

Kalbeliya dance heritage, in its pre-recognition phase, shows an active involvement of state institutions at the expense of Kalbeliya dancers who are the heritage bearers. Keeping the viewpoints and voices of Kalbeliya dancers as integral, the aim of this interdisciplinary project is twofold; a) to explore the implications of tourism led commercialization of Kalbeliya dance for the agency and inclusion of Kalbeliya dancers in their heritage recognition, given the deep-rooted stigma associated with their dance and b) to examine the complicity of stakeholders at state and national levels, primarily in the post-recognition phase of Kalbeliya dance, who can exclude the interests and needs of communities who are the bearers and custodians of heritage forms.

With Delhi and Rajasthan, in India, as two empirical sites, and drawing a nexus between state, heritage and tourism, we apply a methodology composed of various qualitative research methods, combining ethnography with interviews, observation and media analysis. The relevance of the project is even broader as the findings of the project can be important in suggesting safeguarding measures to State cultural bodies who work in collaboration with UNESCO, by foregrounding viewpoints and voices of Kalbeliya dancers.

Principal investigator: Suruchi Thapar-Björkert

Period: 2023–2026

Funding: SEK 4 000 000 from The Swedish Research Council

Research Group

Suruchi Thapar-Björkert (principal investigator), Statsvetenskapliga institutionen, Uppsala universitet.

Dr. Ruchika Ranwa, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Dubai.

Last modified: 2023-01-20