Ahalya Satkunaratnam presents an impactful and constantly unfolding analysis of dancing bharata natyam in Colombo during the Sri Lankan Civil War (1983–2009). She seeks to illuminate the intersections of performance, politics, gender, and ethnicity during war, which requires that “material and ideological terrains need to meet subjective terrains of experience” (3). In doing so, she contributes to a growing roster of scholarly works that examine Sinhala majority and Tamil minority cultural politics in contemporary Sri Lanka.

Using ethnographic and embodied field research that she conducted in 2007 in Colombo, Satkunaratnam centers the complex and liminal place of the minoritized Tamil body in the performance of bharata natyam. She argues that this body, marked ethnically and politically, experiences the dance floor “unevenly” in Sri Lanka, given its precarity during war. Throughout the book, the author states that ethnicity is always political during war both on and off the dance floor. She...

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