Anurima Banerji

Anurima Banerji

Associate Professor, Vice-Chair of Graduate Affairs


Anurima Banerji is Associate Professor in the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance. She is the author of the monograph Dancing Odissi: Paratopic Performances of Gender and State (Seagull Books/University of Chicago Press, 2019), which was awarded the 2020 de la Torre Bueno Prize from the Dance Studies Association. With Violaine Roussel, she co-edited How to Do Politics with Art (Routledge, 2017). Currently she is working on a new book project, The Impossibility of Indian Classical Dance, as well as co-editing the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Indian Dance with Prarthana Purkayastha (Royal Holloway University) and the Oxford Handbook of Dance Praxis with Royona Mitra (Brunel University London) and Jasmine Johnson (University of Pennsylvania). She also co-edited a special issue of the journal Conversations Across the Field of Dance Studies on “Decolonizing Dance Discourses” with Royona Mitra.

In 2013, her essay “Dance and the Distributed Body,” published in About Performance, received the Gertrude Lippincott Award from the Society of Dance History Scholars. She also won the 2007 Outstanding Graduate Research Award from the Congress on Research in Dance for her essay “Paratopias of Performance: The Choreographic Practices of Chandralekha,” later included in Planes of Composition: Dance, Theory, and the Global(Seagull Books, 2009). Additional writings appear in the journals Contemporary Theatre Review, Economic and Political Weekly, South Asian History and Culture, and Women and Performance, and edited volumes like The Moving Space: Women in Dance, Performance Cultures as Epistemic Cultures, and the Oxford Handbook of Dance Reenactment.

Banerji was also part of a group of artists and scholars who contributed to the exhibition A Slightly Curving Place, curated by Nida Ghouse and presented by Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) in Berlin, Germany and the Alserkal Arts Foundation in Dubai, UAE. Her work is documented in the accompanying books, Coming to Know, vols. I and II.

As a poet and trained Odissi dancer, Banerji shares the faculty’s important goal of bridging the worlds of academia and art. Her research principally concerns critical historicizations of Indian dance and its relationship to the state. Her work is situated in the fields of dance and performance studies, and informed by an intersectional and interdisciplinary approach based on insights from postcolonialism, critical race theory, feminist and queer thought, and studies of class, regionalism, and religion in India.

Banerji is affiliated with the UCLA Center for India and South Asia, Center for Performance Studies, the Center for the Study of Women, and the LGBTQ Studies Program. She participated as guest faculty at the 2019 DSA/Mellon Seminar for Emerging Scholars and has served as guest lecturer at Jawaharlal Nehru University’s School of Art and Aesthetics in New Delhi, India and the Center for Contemporary Dance at the University of Music and Dance in Cologne, Germany.

Banerji has received fellowships from the American Association of University Women, the Hellman Foundation, the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Advanced Study, and the International Research Center at Freie Universität to support her research. In Spring 2023 she was a Fellow at the Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University.

Currently she is a Board Member for the journal South Asian Dance Intersections and is coordinating a research series on Odissi in collaboration with Prof. Kaustavi Sarkar (University of North Carolina, Charlotte).


Dance and performance theory, critical race theory and postcolonialism, gender and sexuality, theories of space, political theory, South Asian performance, and interdisciplinary research methods (historical approaches, ethnography, choreographic analysis, discourse analysis).

Creative Practice & Research

  • Recent courses include: Theories of Performance, Introduction to Dance Studies, World Dance Histories, and Odissi Dance.
  • At UCLA, Banerji is affiliated with the Center for India and South Asia, Center for Performance Studies, Center for the Study of Women, and the LGBTQ Studies FAC.
  • Publications include: Dancing Odissi: Paratopic Performances of Gender and State (2019) and the edited volume How to Do Politics with Art (2017).
  • Banerji is the recipient of UCLA grants, Hellman Fellowship, Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Advanced Study Fellowship (New Delhi, India), and International Research Centre fellowship, Freie Universitat (Berlin, Germany).
  • Current research involves a book-in-progress titled The Impossibility of Indian Classical Dance.

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