Ameet Parameswaran’s Performance and The Political: Power and Pleasure in Contemporary Kerala
Author: Ameet Parameswaran
Publisher: Orient BlackSwan, Telangana, India
Cover Illustration: Indranil Haldar
The author traces Kerala’s history from the Emergency into Neoliberalism and to the transitional labour migration into the Gulf, exploring the intertwining narratives of ‘traditional practices of popular politics’ and theatre’s representation of the same. Parameswaran’s work makes use of the methodologies of theatricality, performance historiography and spatiality of region to analyse often neglected sites of affective bodily sensory locations and actions in voice, vision, gesture, machine and animality. Exploring the relationship between authoritarianism and democracy, power and pleasure, and the theatrical representation of the ‘revolutionary’ and the ‘terrorist’, Parameswaran analyses localized forms like theatre, cinema, Kathaprasangam, Mimics Parade and popular poetry recitals to demonstrate the potential of cultural performances to stage the political.
Introducing Chapter 4 titled, ‘Machinic: Sounding the Consumption Regime’, Parameswaran writes, “If there is an everydayness of violence, there is also an everydayness in pleasure, sutured through consumption. What is it to conceive performance as an exposure and embodiment of consumption? Can performance present a possibility of the democratisation of pleasure by holding on to and even valorising the everyday and the ordinary of consumption within neoliberalism?” (p. 19). Subsequently, observing the impact of the performance of Mimics Parade during the Gulf migration, the author untangles the complex relation between consumption practices and poses two critical questions, “If new emerging technologies and their world of the virtual are archives that perform a new, reconstituted region, can one think of performances as ‘sounding’ that transformation, declaring and announcing the transformation at the level of senses? How does performance that works at the level of repertoire build on, transform and critique this region as a performing archive?” (p.141)