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Leah Lowthorp

Leah Lowthorp

Graduate Student, dual-degree student in the Folklore Program and the Anthropology Department
University of Pennsylvania
3619 Locust Walk, Fourth Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19104
phone: (215) 898-7467
fax: (215) 573-2231


M.A. Thesis in Folklore, University of Pennsylvania, 2005

"Folklore's Contemporary Representation of the Female Voice"

M.A. Thesis in International Studies, Institut Européen des Hautes Etudes Internationales (France), 2007

"The Cultural Politics of UNESCO's Intangible Heritage of Humanity"

Prospective Dissertation Topic

"Performing World Heritage: Kutiyattam as UNESCO Intangible Heritage of Humanity"

My dissertation research, beginning Fall 2008 in Kerala, India, will focus on Kutiyattam Sanskrit theatre and its status as a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. It will examine the social and historical development surrounding Kutiyattam leading up to its recognition by UNESCO, as well as local and greater Indian values of cultural preservation and how those harmonize or clash with those of a supranational organization such as the United Nations. Looking at issues of globalization and cultural identity formation, it will consider the notion of “world heritage”, and explore the influences participation in such a project in Kerala have had upon the community of artists themselves. As world heritage has become one of several ways of envisioning and constituting a global, unified polity and new forms of cosmopolitan citizenship, my study will examine if such new forms of citizenship in Kerala are indeed imagined at a nexus of local, national, and international identities. In an increasingly globalized world in which institutions such as UNESCO are engaging in new forms of global governance, my work is committed to analyzing how this translates back to and affects communities on the ground.

Research Interests

Performance; Heritage and "World Heritage"; Cultural Politics; Globalization; Citizenship; Transnationalism and Diaspora; Women and Gender Studies; South Asia; Germany; Scandinavia; Brazil


Selected Conference Presentations

American Folklore Society/Folklore Studies Association of Canada 2007 Joint Annual Meeting, Québec City, Canada: “The Cultural Politics of UNESCO Intangible Heritage in India: Kutiyattam Sanskrit Theatre”

Folklore Fellows 2007 Summer School, Finland & Karelia, Russia: “UNESCO Intangible Heritage in India: Kutiyattam Sanskrit Theatre”

Pushing Boundaries, University of Indiana, Bloomington Graduate Student Conference, 2006: “The Intensification of Magic in the Global Moment: Gambling as a Case Study”

American Folklore Society 2005 Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA: “The Intensification of Magic in the Global Moment”

American Folklore Society 2004 Annual Meeting, Salt Lake City, UT: “The Irish Kerryman Joke: The Emergence of a Modern Fool Region Joke”


Membership/Professional Affiliations

American Folklore Society
American Anthropological Association



UNESCO Intangible Heritage Section
UNESCO Proclamation 2001 -- Kutiyattam Sanskrit Theatre
The Hindu--Kutiyattam as World Heritage
Natana Kairali at Ammannur Madhava Chakyar Kutiyattam Gurukulam, Irinjalakuda
Margi Kathakali and Kutiyattam Theatre, Trivandrum
Kerala Kalamandalam

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