Department of Performing Arts
- Shalini Ayyagari is a specialist in the regional musical practices of North India. Her current book project, Small Voices Sing Big Songs: Music and Institutional Culture in Rajasthan, India, examines examines intersections of development initiatives and music-making as members of the Manganiyar hereditary musician community are founding their own non-governmental organizations to grapple with community and caste issues in northwestern India. She is currently working on a project which examines the Thar Desert region as a site for borderlands music-making on the India-Pakistan border, and is specifically looking into the role of Sindhi Sufi music in the creation of place in this region. Ayyagari is an avid tabla and Balinese Gamelan player.
DegreesPhD, Ethnomusicology, UC Berkeley
MA, Ethnomusicology, UC Berkeley
BA, Music, Swarthmore College
- CAS - Performing Arts
- Katzen Arts Center - 234
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Area of Expertise: Music of South Asia (India and Pakistan), Bollywood film music, South Asian American diasporic music
Additional Information: Shalini Ayyagari worked closely with a group of Manganiyar — a Muslim caste literally translated as beggar — that live in the borderland between India and Pakistan who traditionally play classical and folk music for Hindu life-cycle observances and holiday celebrations. Ayyagari documents the cultural shift in the Manganiyar’s lives and music as these largely illiterate villagers transition to a life of means influenced by cultural interactions with foreign tourists and their own travel as performers. For her Fulbright IIE–funded dissertation research on the Manganiyar community, she filmed over 200 hundred hours of footage and is currently developing a full-length documentary.
To request an interview please call AU Media Relations at 202-885-5950 or submit an interview request form.
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