Idolized as models of good Hindu women, Indo-Caribbean American women artists—dancers of Kathak and singers of classical Indian music and devotional songs—have the difficult task of performing and maintaining the authenticity of the Indianness of the Indo-Caribbean Americans living in New York. As they all vigilantly preserve and pass down the classical Indian arts, they also inhabit the interstices of their existence. Between immigrant and American, West Indian and East Indian, traditional and modern, religious and secular, these women crave to express their polycultural voice and to articulate an Indo-Caribbean American feminism. To appreciate the contradictions they live, this article examines these tensions to track the continued relevance of the bhadramahila or "respectable woman" concept devised during Indian independence to the experiences of the Indian diaspora. Also, by questioning the prevailing understanding of voice as empowering, this article considers how performance is not only transformative, but also disciplining.


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pp. 65-82
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