Leading By Example: Ranga Shankara Theatre and the Status of Empirical Referents in Cultural Description

Julian Meyrick


This paper examines the terms and perspectives used by the Indian community theatre Ranga Shankara in the construction of its public identity. It contrasts these with the abstract and abstracting approaches to cultural production taken by Western scholarship in its econometric and socio-political modes. Drawing from Ranga Shankara's website, examples are given of how the company construes its relationship to its venue, its artists and its audiences. This language is unpacked by way of pointing up the importance of respecting self-description in analysing empirical referents, particularly when these are taken from other cultures. The paper is prefaced with remarks about the use of micro-sociological context theorists such as Irving Goffman, Harold Garfinkel and Harvey Sacks in constructing a conceptually adequate model of culture that is nevertheless considerate of artists' intentions and agency. The work of the contemporary materialist-Platonist Alain Badiou is briefly cited, especially his resuscitation of the category of truth.

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Asia Pacific Journal of Arts and Cultural Management; ISSN 1449-1184
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