On June 1st 2016 the Aii @ Delhi had the pleasure of hosting the first of our Incoming Leaders Fellowship (ILF) Seminars by Mr. John Zubrzycki. “Magical Spectacles, Circus Shows and Shakespeare: Australian Popular Culture in India, 1860- 1930”. Zubrzycki is an author, journalist, and a former diplomat to India. He is currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of New South Wales.
“The establishment of the Australia India Institute’s office in New Delhi is a welcome development that will help strengthen institutional links between the two countries.”
Mrs Patricia Uberoi, Chairperson and Honorary Fellow for the Institute of Chinese Studies, chaired the seminar. Mrs Uberoi celebrated Zubrzycki’s research work, as “a little segment to something much bigger”, which was presented to a mix of academics, artists, media and officials from the Australia’s High Commission office in India.
In his presentation, Zubrzycki looked at the landmark Indian experiments of Australian entertainers and magicians. From Levante to Fearless Nadia, he added an alternative narrative to the existing dialogue of shared colonial history between India and Australia. He emphasised the ‘Oriental’ curiosity that dictated the flow of magicians and entertainers to India. This process of transnational exchange signified both competition and collaboration between Indian and European entertainers.
Transcending boundaries of culture and language in magic, Zubrzycki’s investigation of historical events drew attention to how India loomed large in the colonial imagination. For the Australian entertainer, the Indian market provided both commodity and a captive audience. His evaluation of this phase in the history of globalization is significant to the study of the dialogue as it continues to sustain large networks of information. Zubrzycki’s presentation on the untried yet remodeled historical inquiry into the exchange of magic between the two countries was as refreshing as it was compelling.
Zubrzycki said “The establishment of the Australia India Institute’s office in New Delhi is a welcome development that will help strengthen institutional links between the two countries. Being the first Incoming Leaders Fellow was a great honor and gave me the opportunity undertake archival research on early links between India and Australia in the field on popular culture. The Institute is a great resource that should be taken advantage of by all visiting scholars from Australia.”