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Polygence Scholar2023
Shrujana Iyer's profile

Shrujana Iyer

Class of 2026New York, NY


Hi! My name is Shrujana Karthick Iyer. My Polygence project in on the history of Carnatic Music, an ancient South Indian art form that is practiced even today. I chose to do this project because I have been a Carnatic Music singer for the past 11 years, and I wanted to look into the deep and complex history of Carnatic Music.


  • "Caste, Devadasis, and Carnatic Music" with mentor Aditya (Sept. 7, 2023)

Project Portfolio

Caste, Devadasis, and Carnatic Music

Started Apr. 13, 2023

Abstract or project description

Shrujana's project explores both Brahmins and devadasis (hereditary female caste of artists and temple dancers) and their role in the cultural production of South Indian Carnatic Music. Her project traces Brahmin-led reform movements that co-opted music forms traditionally pioneered by Devadasis. She also plans to examine how these dynamics manifest from the colonial period to now. In doing so, she will draw on both academic literature and her experience from the subject position as a Brahmin involved in Carnatic music. She makes the argument that this relationship - between Brahmin and Devadasi - lends itself to cultural appropriation.