The author aims to use Kuchipudi Indian classical Hindu dance to educate non-Hindus about Hinduism with postcolonialism in mind. This goal arises from her dance experiences and the historical era of imperialism. Colonization occurs when those in power believe there is a need to dominate in a manner that subjugates people. Colonizers created colonies as they moved into territory because they felt there was a need to “civilize” the so-called savages of the land. Postcolonialism is an intellectual discourse that confronts the legacy of colonialism and attempts to de-colonize. With the legacy of colonialism and a postcolonial lens in mind, some research questions arise. How does she, as a Kuchipudi dancer, use Hindu dance to educate non-Hindus about the Eastern literature of Hinduism? For non-Hindus, she feels the power of the exoticizing gaze when she dances, which might very well block the educational intention of the dance. This exoticizing gaze prevents the understanding of the traditional nature of the dance and the introduction to Hinduism as a world religion. The author’s problem is moving the exotic gaze of non-Hindus to an educational gaze that seeks to learn about the ethics of Hinduism in a manner that takes into consideration the multiple perspectives of the complex society we live in today.
“In short, MisirHiralall’s research highlights the role of contemplation and critical-self reflection in creating opportunities for true intercultural relations that respect the epistemologies of traditionally marginalized and stigmatized non-Western religions and cultures. This is essential theoretical and practical research for a multicultural society that is grounded in first-person, lived experience.” – Tyson E. Lewis, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Art Education, University of North Texas
“Most impressive is that MisirHiralall is walking her talk through a thoughtful and lyrical self-study that is situated in the in-between: between the mind and body, the gaze of the Other and the self, the Eastern and Western worlds, and the fields of dance, religion, philosophy, cultural studies, and teacher education.” – Monica Taylor, Ph.D., Professor and Deputy Chair of the Department of Secondary and Special Education, Montclair State University
“In MisirHiralall’s Confronting Orientalism, the reader is gifted with a rare glimpse into a philosopher-educator’s wrestling with her teaching through the medium of Hindu dance …. All who think seriously about the context and impact of their teaching in connection with their core values can benefit from reading of this book.” – Michael D. Waggoner, Ph.D., Professor of Postsecondary Education, University of Northern Iowa, Editor of Religion & Education