“Real Bauls Live under Trees”

Lisa I. Knight

in Contradictory Lives

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780199773541
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897353 | DOI:
“Real Bauls Live under Trees”

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This chapter discusses scholarly and bhadralok (Bengali elite) discourses about Bauls, particularly concerning their portrayals (and omissions) of women. These discourses construct Baul authenticity as unencumbered by societal concerns: without home or care, childless, and utterly consumed by spiritual goals. These discourses tend also to be shared by potential patrons, who then hire Bauls whom they believe meet those public expectations. While these discourses reveal a pervasive view about what is considered to be a good or a “real” Baul, they also marginalize Baul women and contribute to the stigmatization of them as “bad” by emphasizing qualities and behaviors that run counter to local, rural ideals of female respectability.

Keywords: Bengali elite; Bauls; identity; gender; carefree; patron; performance2

Chapter.  11982 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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