Bollywood Dreams? The Rise of the Asian Mela as a Global Cultural Phenomenon

Melanie Smith
Elizabeth Carnegie

Abstract


This article will examine some of the complexities inherent in the development of Asian Mela festivals from small-scale community-based events in India, to national celebrations of Diasporic culture in Western countries. Like Caribbean Carnivals, Melas are becoming more popular as a global cultural tourism phenomenon and are increasingly being promoted to white and tourist audiences. This similarly engenders fears of cultural dilution, distortion, and ‘Othering’. The programming of Melas is apparently keeping pace with the exporting, re-packaging and hybridisation of other forms of Asian culture, such as cuisine, music, fashion, and cinema. But does this symbolise a Bollywood dream or just another post-colonial appropriation of indigenous or Disaporic cultures? Cultural protectionism is certainly a contentious issue within Diasporic communities, where inter-generational differences of opinion can lead to conflict and confusion. Identity construction is complex and worthy of further examination in the context of Melas, which traditionally served to celebrate ethnic community and folk cultures and identities, but are increasingly becoming a showcase for global and hybridised cultural forms. The article will examine these issues, as well as providing an analysis of the factors and mechanisms that are driving the development of Melas forward. This will include the role and vision of artistic directors of Melas, the contribution of ethnic communities to cultural continuity, and issues relating to audience and tourism development. A case study of the Edinburgh Mela will be presented, which exemplifies a number of the aforementioned issues, focusing in particular on national and Diasporic identity construction, and the tensions between popular and traditional cultural forms.

Keywords


Mela festival; diaspora communities; hybridisation; popular versus traditional cultural values

Full Text:

PDF

References


Edinburgh Mela Artistic Policy Document.

ALLEYNE-DETTMERS, P. T. 1996. Carnival: the Historical Legacy, London, Arts Council of England.

ANDERSON, B. 1992. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism, London, Verso.

BACK, L. 1996. New Ethnicities and Urban Culture: racisms and multiculture in young lives, London, UCL Press.

BAUMAN, Z. 2000. Community: Seeking Safety in an Insecure World, London, Polity.

BAUMAN, Z. 2000. Community: Seeking Safety in an Insecure World, London, Polity.

BAUMANN, G. 1996. Contesting Culture: Discourses of identity in multi-ethnic London, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

BEVERIDGE, C. & TURNBULL, R. 1989. The Eclipse of Scottish Culture: Inferiorism and the Intellectuals, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press.

BRAH, A. 1996. Cartographies of diasporas: Contesting identities, London, Routledge.

CANDIDA-SMITH, R. (ed.) 2002. Art and the Performance of Memory: Sounds and Gestures of Recollection, London: Routledge.

CARLSON, M. 1996. Performance: a critical introduction, London, Routledge.

CHAUDHARY, V. 2003. The big bhangra. The Guardian, 15 August.

DAICHES, D. 1957. Two Worlds, Edinburgh, Canongate Classics.

ERROL, J. 1986. Mama look a Mas’ in Masquerading: The Art of the Notting Hill Carnival, London, Arts Council of Great Britain.

FERGUSON, R. 1998. Representing ‘Race’: Ideology, Identity and the Media, London, Arnold.

FLUSTY, S. 2004. De-Coca-Colonization: Making the Globe from the Inside Out, London, Routledge.

HALFPENNY, L. 2002. In: SMITH, M. & CARNEGIE, E. (eds.).

JERMYN, H. & DESAI, P. 2000. Arts – what’s in a word?: ethnic minorities and the Arts, London, Arts Council of England.

KAUR, R. & HUTNYK, J. 1999. Travel Worlds: Journeys in Contemporary Cultural Politics, London, Zed Books.

KHAN, N. 1976. The Arts Britain Ignores: The Arts of Ethnic Minorities in Britain, London, Commission for Racial Equality.

LIPPARD, L. 1990. Mixed Blessings: New Art in a Multicultural America, New York, Pantheon Books.

MANN, B. 1992. The New Scots, London, John Donald.

MORLEY, D. 2000. Home Territories: Media, Mobility and Identity, London, Routledge. doi: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203444177

MOUSTAFA, B. & ANDREW, R. 2001. The Said Reader, London, Granta.

MOWITT, J. 2001. In the Wake of Eurocentrism: An Introduction. Cultural Critique, 8. doi: https://doi.org/10.1353/cul.2001.0024

STENHOUSE, D. 2004. On the Make: How the Scots Took Over London, Edinburgh, Mainstream.

THE PAREKH REPORT 2000. The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, London, Profile Books.

TWEEDIE, A. 2004. In: SMITH, M. & CARNEGIE, E. (eds.).

WATSON, M. 2003. Being English in Scotland, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press.

WEEKS, J. 2000. Making Sexual History, London, Polity.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5130/phrj.v12i0.198