Congratulations to Graduate Associate Rajat Nayyar (Theatre & Performance Studies), who is one of four York recipients of the prestigious Vanier Scholarship

Rajat Nayyar‘s (Theatre & Performance Studies) proposed dissertation is titled “Women’s Vocality, Radical Sociality: Re-Imagining Power, Folklore & Audiovisual Ethnography in Rural North India,” and looks at North India from the nineteenth century onward, when forms of women’s entertainment attracted the attention of British colonial lawmakers, upper-caste social reformers, Hindu nationalists, revivalists, and an emerging middle class that sought to initiate change in the social and customary behaviour of women and lower castes.

“My ethnographic, community-based research aims to address how conventional understandings of the relationship between caste, class, gender, religion and power may be questioned through the study of Indian women’s folk songs,” says Nayyar. “Focusing on ‘gaari’ songs that hurl abuses at men during wedding rituals, my research will explore the ways in which these expressions of vocal resistance are improvised, crafted and performed in everyday life, both within and outside the gendered ritual context. I will study the politics, performativity and sonic potentiality of voice as a form of social and political agency. Furthermore, I will provide filmmaking and acting workshops to community members at village schools, in order to improvise and co-produce a series of films.”

Valued at $50,000 per year for three years during doctoral studies, the Vanier scholarship is awarded by the Government of Canada to doctoral students whose work displays excellence in three equally weighted selection criteria: academic excellence, research potential and leadership. The full story is available here: