Dr. Amanda Weidman
Specialization: Anthropology
Home institution in US: Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Host Institution in India: Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai, Tamil Nadu  
Start date/Month in India: January 2013
Duration of grant: 4 months

Brief Bio:
Dr. Amanda Weidman is a cultural anthropologist and ethnomusicologist with interests in music, performance, media, gender and language. She completed her Ph.D. in anthropology at Columbia University, New York in 2001. Since then, she has taught at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, where she is currently associate professor of anthropology. Her research since the mid-1990s has been located in Tamil-speaking South India, where she did a project on the social history of Karnatic music and was a student and performer of Karnatic violin. She is currently engaged in research on playback singers in the Tamil film industry, examining the shifts in vocal and performance practices among female playback singers between the 1950s and the present. She is the author of Singing the Classical, Voicing the Modern: The Postcolonial Politics of Music in South India (Duke University Press 2006) and an article on historic Tamil-language mimicry recordings, as well as several forthcoming articles on music, performance and gender in the South Indian context.

Dr. Weidman’s Fulbright project, “Female Voices in the Public Sphere: Playback Singing as Cultural Phenomenon in South India,” will examine playback singing as a cultural phenomenon emerging within the context of Indian modernity. Focusing on female singers for the Tamil film industry, she will examine playback singing as a site for the creation of ideologies of voice and gender and as a profession that produced new forms of stardom and new opportunities for women to enter the public sphere. The research will involve archival research, interviews and critical analysis of key films.