Women's Studies Colloquium

September 14, 12:30pm - 2:00pm
Mānoa Campus, Saunder 244 Add to Calendar

A Place Under The Eaves: Storytelling, Violence, and a Nepali Singer's Search for Belonging

A presentation by

Anna M. Stirr, Assistant Professor, Department of Asian Studies, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa


Nepali dohori songs are dialogic, improvised performances sung between men and women, in which singers may play particular roles, or express their own personal joys and sorrows. After a decade of civil war and unprecedented internal and international migration, many Nepalis hoped that dohori could be a medium for those traumatized by violence to work through their stories as a means of healing. Yet bringing the bitter memories of violent experiences into public narrative forms remains an undertaking fraught with peril, and few choose to talk about memories of war in anything but the most generalized terms. In my fieldwork among migrant dohori performers I came across more instances of domestic and sexual violence than instances of wartime trauma, but I came to realize that these were related, as structural violence was a major impetus for the conflict, and continued in the new social configurations that the war had brought, and shaped how all of these performers attempted to create senses of belonging within heterogeneous migrant spaces. In this talk I examine a dohori performance in which one woman deals with memories of domestic violence, while her male song- partner responds in various ways, some of which challenge her sentiments. I focus on the dialogic nature of dohori storytelling, which literalizes the truism that no one person is in control of a single narrative. Moving beyond the idea that storytelling is cathartic for those who have experienced trauma, I discuss how making a personal story public is part of a struggle to belong, and how such struggles often contain considerable pain.

Ticket Information
Free and open to the public.

Event Sponsor
Department of Women's Studies and Center for South Asian Studies, Mānoa Campus

More Information
Brianne Gallagher, 388-0821, Brianneg@hawaii.edu

Share by email