Prof. Dr. Rasika Ajotikar
Rasika Ajotikar is Junior Professor of Ethnomusicology at the Institute for Music and Musicology and the Center for World Music at the University of Hildesheim.
Professor Ajotikar holds a PhD in Ethnomusicology from the Department of Music at SOAS University of London. Prior to arriving in Hildesheim, she was a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Development Studies at SOAS University of London (2021-2023). She held a postdoctoral position as part of a DFG (German Research Foundation) project at the Department of Musicology, University of Göttingen, in partnership with the Berliner Phonogramm-Archiv (2017- 2020). She was a teaching fellow at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies in Göttingen in 2020.
As an ethnomusicologist and anthropologist, Professor Ajotikar’s research addresses music and sound as they relate to political economy. She is interested in issues concerning inequality, class, caste, race, gender, social movements and philosophical enquiries of art, culture, and emancipatory politics.
Professor Ajotikar is presently working on a monograph which looks at the musical landscape of anti-caste thought in western India against the backdrop of the systematisation of music in colonial India and bourgeoning political movements over the 20th century. It examines the relationship between caste and hereditary artisanship to understand the overlaps between service, labour, art, and political action over the 20th and 21st centuries. It revises modern historiographies of music with a focus on caste, class and gender whilst maintaining a shift away from essentialist frameworks. This work analyses how modernity and ensuing cultural politics have shaped movements mobilised by historically marginalised and exploited groups, particularly Dalits (formerly untouchable communities) in rural and urban India. She has conducted ethnographic fieldwork among musicians and activists from anti-caste collectives in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, which deliberates on the political and aesthetic dimensions of resistance, didacticism and art in contemporary times. Subsequently, this research highlights issues surrounding censorship, state repression and incarceration of Dalit activists and musicians in present-day Maharashtra.
While working as a postdoctoral fellow on the DFG (German Research Foundation) project, she examined European legacies of music and sound collection in South and Southeast Asia and their institutionalisation in western Europe. This research offers reflections on the ongoing debates about colonial and nationalist modernity, historical and ethnographic method, cultural politics, ethics of repatriation and dissemination among others. Whilst focusing on the sound collection of Dutch scholar, curator, and impresario, Felix van Lamsweerde, this project paved the way for an examination of the network of associated collections of key figures in the field of ethnomusicology, including Arnold Bake, Jaap Kunst, Alain Daniélou, Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy among others. Professor Ajotikar contributed extensively to the technical and analytical aspects of this project which has led to the digitisation of about eleven hundred items and an online database at the Berliner Phonogramm-Archiv.
Professor Ajotikar is also a singer trained in the North Indian classical music tradition. With a view to bringing together musicological, historical, and philosophical enquiries, she is interested in experimenting with various genres of music, singing styles, and poetry. Her latest project, ‘Tarannum’, features the classical and modern forms of the Urdu ghazal. She has also been studying the repertoire of the Indian anti-caste movements and has collaborated extensively with an anti-caste collective in western India.
Culture and Aesthetics in Contemporary Capitalism
An online seminar series organised and curated in 2022
The Felix van Lamsweerde collection
https://nat.museum-digital.de/objects?s=%20persinst:139168 (digitised collection)
Music and social movements
Music, race, caste
Sound archives, modernity and postcolonial India
From critical reading to writing (skill development for academic research and writing)