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Ghosh, Anirban (2014): The tropic trapeze: circus in colonial India. Dissertation, LMU München: Fakultät für Geschichts- und Kunstwissenschaften



Indian circus companies and performers remain largely absent within the historical narratives of theatre and performance in South Asia. The tropic trapeze: Circus in Colonial India project seeks to address key issues of gender, transculturalism and identity politics around the travelling circuses owned and operated by Indians around the 1870s to 1940s. The project starts with detailing the lives and travels of Indian performers in Europe and North America, who performed in different fairs and exhibitions, as well as Western Circus companies travelling to different parts of South Asia around the mid 19th Century. The initial chapters reflect on the entrepreneurship of Indian Circus owners in setting up companies owned by Indians and the initial logistical and aesthetic troubles. Female circus performers remain a strong presence in this project (specifically because the debates around the idea of female bodies operating in public spheres was largely absent when it came to circus unlike the theatre). Finally, the project reflects upon the global connections of the South Asian circus companies. In the concluding chapters, the role of animals and their representation is discussed along with the trading companies which arranged for the global transactions of these 'exotic creatures', namely the Hagenbeck Company from Hamburg.