Dissatisfied with the way the English Literature syllabus marginalized oral literatures and cultures, two teachers, Jayati Gupta and Sipra Mukherjee, set out to create a course that would make it possible for students to study folklore as part of the Masters’ syllabus offered by the West Bengal State University.
Positioned conveniently in the interstices of the urban and the rural, the University itself was set within an encouraging environment that granted easy access to the richness of rural Bengal without sacrificing (too greatly) the amenities of the urban. The course received such fulsome response from the students that Sipra decided to take it forward to continue the valuable study many of the students had begun. The result was a two-year project on religious folklore funded by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) which documented and studied folklores prevalent among religious/faith groups of East India. Begun in 2013, the objectives of the project ‘Interpreting Folklore: understanding the relation between folklore, religion and caste in East India’ was to understand how folklores are constructed by the forces of diverse communitarian identities such as religion, political community and caste. The archive emerged out of that project.
This site hopes to continue with this aim: documenting the multitudes of living folklore present in India and studying how communities build folklores through the play of social forces in diverse fields of power and knowledge. The words ‘folk’ and ‘gods’ have been interpreted as loosely as is possible. Here ‘folk’ includes people from the cities as well as villages, and ‘gods’ from the many religions as well as outside them, since the urban and the rural, the religious and the secular, have more overlaps than is commonly believed possible.
folkgods is an archive devoted to the fascinating plurality that is part of India.
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