Dia Da Costa


Dr. Dia Da Costa is a co-organizer of this workshop and Associate Professor of Theoretical, Cultural and International Studies in the Department of Educational Policy Studies. She is the author of Development Dramas: Reimagining Rural Political Action in Eastern India (Routledge, 2009) and Politicizing Creative Economy: Activism and a Hunger called Theatre (University of Illinois Press, 2016). She analyzes cultural politics of ‘development,’ the politics and pedagogies of activism and solidarity, and unrecognized spaces of creativity and knowledge to understand the intersecting histories of colonial-capitalist, nationalist, leftist, and neoliberal politics.


Eating Heritage

The cultural politics of India’s creative economy is founded in a sentimental optimism that obscures its histories and investments in securing creativity and knowledge as upper-caste and Hindu majoritarian property. Planners insist that the sector generates sustainable livelihoods in the face of a growing crisis of farmer suicides and hunger across India. Although the blood of caste, class, patriarchal and religious violence stains the blueprints of what counts as heritage and creativity, planners claim that ‘creativity is in India’s DNA’. This suggests that the poor can harness and develop tangible and intangible cultural heritage to feed themselves. Against planning’s compensatory solution of eating heritage, the creative politics of Budhan Theatre is marked by a radical disidentification and re-determination of what it means to eat heritage. The performance and politics of the indigenous Chhara theatre troupe simultaneously hungers to refuse hunger, eats heritage and refuses to eat heritage. They challenge their caste and colonial histories of criminality by foregrounding state and corporate criminality, devastation of indigenous land and forests, and agrarian displacement. Significantly, against creative economy sentimentality, they perform the limits of performance itself.

Talk Date 1: April, 27 9:00-10:30 Panel I (closed): Politicizing Creative Economy

Venue: University Senate Chamber

Talk Date 2 : April 28, 1:00-2:45 Public Panel I: Politicizing Creative Economy

Venue: Education Centre North Room 2-115

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