In this article, I examine the values and meanings that adhere to objects made by Maithil women at a development project in Janakpur, Nepal – objects collectors have called ‘Janakpur Art’. I seek to explain how and why changes in pictorial content in Janakpur Art – shifts that took place over a period of five or six years in the 1990s – occurred, and what such a change might indicate about the link between Maithil women’s lives, development, and tourism. As I will demonstrate, part of the appeal for consumers of Janakpur Art has been that it is produced at a ‘women’s development project’ seeking to empower its participants. And yet, the project’s very successes threaten to displace the producers (and what they produce) from their perceived qualities/identities as ‘traditional’ and ‘primitive,’ thereby bringing into question the authenticity of the ‘art’ they produce. The conundrum begs this question: can developing women produce primitive art?
Davis, Coralynn V.. "Can Developing Women Create Primitive Art? and Other Questions of Value, Meaning and Identity in the Circulation of Janakpur Art." Tourist Studies 7, no. 2 (2007) : 193-223.
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