Creative City: Culture and Resistance in Global Bangalore

In light of the ongoing global COVID-19 crisis and worldwide travel restrictions, which are expected to remain in place for an indefinite period of time, Stanford University is suspending all BOSP Summer Quarter 2019-20 programs (see full announcement).

Seminar Quick Facts

Location: Bangalore and Pondicherry, India

Faculty Leaders 
Jisha Menon, Theater and Performance Studies
Michael Rau, Theater and Performance Studies

Arrival date in Bangalore, IndiaJuly 1, 2020

Departure date from Bangalore, India: July 21, 2020

Information Session: November 5 (1:30pm-2:30pm) in Sweet Hall rm. 020

Program Cost: $600 program fee. Fee covers room and board, transportation and course activities during the program. Fee excludes airfare to/from the program location. Financial assistance towards the program fee and cost of travel may be available. Please visit the Overseas Seminar Overview webpage for complete information.

Academic Prerequisites: None

Additional Program Requirements
1) Vaden Travel Health Orientation
2) 1x1 Appointment with Vaden Travel Clinic
3) Ground Rules - In order to optimize safety during the program, students will be required to agree to and sign Ground Rules that may restrict behavior throughout the program. These Ground Rules are in addition to the BOSP Participation and Assumption of Risk, Release of Claims, Indemnification and Hold Harmless Agreement that all students sign and agree to at the time of program application. Students’ parents/families will also need to sign these Ground Rules to confirm that they acknowledge the specific dangers of travel to the program location.

Activity Level
Light/Moderate: Activities may include city walking tours, easy/short hikes, museum and other site visits as well as an occasional physical activity such as snorkeling, hiking, or kayaking. For a full list of program activity levels refer to the Overview page.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Health Information for Travelers to India

US State Department Country Information: India

Visa Information: Consulate General of India

General Information: Visit the Overseas Seminars Overview page

Application Deadline: January 26, 2020 at 11:59pm (applications will open in December 2019). Please visit BOSP's Application Process page for more information.

Questions? Schedule an appointment with a BOSP staff member.

General Description

This course explores a central question: How did the southern Indian city, Bangalore, transform from “pensioner’s paradise” to India’s high tech capital? Within this larger framework, several more focused questions will guide us: How did the liberalization of the Indian economy in 1991 precipitate civic and urban changes? How have the rapid urban transformations of the past three decades reshaped the social and cultural lives of its citizens? In what ways have citizens responded to these challenges? How might the creative arts make visible the pitfalls and promise of the metropolis? How have legal and environmental activists mobilized to challenge the increasing privatization of the commons? In this interdisciplinary course, we will study the urban transformations of Bangalore through three vectors of analysis: the city’s vibrant arts scene, civic and legal activism, and environmental and social justice. We will also visit the former French colony, Pondicherry, and consider comparative European colonialisms in the subcontinent, while also exploring the city’s relationship to important sites such as the Aurobindo ashram, the experimental township, Auroville, and the arts institute, Adishakti.

Topics include: history of the city; the liberalization of Indian economy; its impact on arts, environmental and legal activism; cultures of protest and resistance. 


This 3-week seminar takes place in Bangalore, Karnataka, and a 4-day side trip to former French colony, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu. We will visit museums, botanical gardens, research institutes, art galleries, and participate in the city’s urban life. We will hold morning discussions in our hotels before setting out to immerse ourselves in the life of the city. We will also gather to attend talks by experts on various facets of Indian culture and society. 

Formerly described as “pensioner’s paradise,” and “garden city,” Bangalore is a city in southern India that once evoked images of rest and retreat. From an earlier somnolent rhythm of life, Bangalore has transformed into the high technology capital of the Global South. With a dizzying velocity of transnational traffic in capital, media, information, commodities, and people, Bangalore grows at a pace so rapid that it eludes our conceptual grasp of it. The fastest-growing wealth base in the Asia Pacific with a population that’s almost doubled in the last 20 years, Bangalore offers an exemplary paradigm to analyze the urban transformations in the Global South. In the past three decades, following the liberalization of the Indian economy in 1991, Bangalore has witnessed striking changes in the economic, spatial, social, and cultural arenas. Bangalore is home to numerous Information Technology companies, including the Indian giants Infosys and Wipro and multinationals such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, SAP and Cisco. Bangalore’s embrace of global capitalism has opened enormous possibilities while also producing inequality, resentment, and ripples of tension throughout the city. 

Living and Travel Conditions

Accommodations will be in boutique hotels in Bangalore and Pondicherry. We will have a bus that will take us to our various site visits in both locations. We will fly from Bangalore to Pondicherry. The weather in Bangalore will be warm with some showers. Pondicherry will be hotter and more humid, and may experience heavier rainfall.


This course will be led by two faculty members: Professor Jisha Menon, who grew up in this city, and witnessed its radical transformations will guide students through these topics that also form the heart of her current research monograph, Brutal Beauty: Aspiration and Aesthetics in the Neoliberal City. Jisha Menon teaches courses at the intersection of performance theory and global studies. Her research interests lie at the intersection of urbanism and neoliberalism, art and justice, gender and sexuality. Her books include her monograph, Performance of Nationalism: India, Pakistan and the Memory of Partition(2013), and two co-edited volumes, Violence Performed: Local Roots and Global Routes of Conflict(2009) and Performing the Secular: Religion, Politics, and Representation(2017.)

She will be joined by Professor Michael Rau, who is a director and performance maker, and has traveled widely across the globe and created location specific performance projects. Michael Rau is a live performance director specializing in new plays, opera, and digital media projects. He has worked internationally in Germany, Brazil, the UK, Ireland, Canada, and the Czech Republic. He has created work in New York City at Lincoln Center, The Public Theater, PS122, HERE Arts Center, Ars Nova, The Bushwick Starr, The Brick, 59E59, 3LD, and Dixon Place. Regionally, his work as been seen at the Ingenuity Festival in Cleveland OH, and the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, MA. He has developed new plays at the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, the Lark and the Kennedy Center. Michael Rau is a recipient of fellowships from the Likhachev Foundation, the Kennedy Center, and the National New Play Network. He has been a resident artist at the Orchard Project, E|MERGE, and the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. He has been an associate director for Anne Bogart, Les Waters, Robert Woodruff, and Ivo Van Hove. He is a New York Theater Workshop Usual Suspect and a professor of directing and devising at Stanford University.

Prerequisites and Expectations

The primary expectation of each student during the seminar abroad is 100% attendance in daily activities. These include morning discussions before we set out to explore various facets of the city. We will devote some time in the evenings to performance workshop participation.  Students will be expected to participate in collaborative performance making activities.

Application Process

Decisions will be based on application materials. There are no interviews. The seminar capacity is 15 students.

Grading Basis

Satisfactory/No Credit

Passport and Visa

Students are solely responsible for obtaining their passport and visa (if applicable). Every BOSP participant MUST have a signed passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the scheduled RETURN date from the overseas program. Students who do not have a valid passport must apply for a new or renewed passport immediately. For information on obtaining or renewing a U.S. passport please visit the State Department website.

To determine whether a visa is necessary for your program, visit the Consulate General of India. You may also consult with the recommended visa service providers listed below.

VisaCentral by CIBT
VisaCentral by CIBT offers online Stanford rates, or contact the local office:

In person: 555 Montgomery St. Suite 700, San Francisco, CA 94111
Walk-in hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
By phone: (877) 535-0688

Health and Safety

Students on international programs should be aware that attitudes toward medical conditions, disabilities, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and psychological conditions vary by culture and under the laws of the host countries. These differences impact the level of treatment and accommodation available abroad. Students should give serious consideration to their health and personal circumstances when accepting a place in a program and should consult with their clinician.

While the benefits of international travel can be enormous, it is often associated with certain health and safety risks. Thankfully, a number of interventions exist to mitigate these risks including vaccines, use of certain medications, and specific behavior changes. Health concerns vary by the particular destination, time of year, the health of the individual, type of accommodations, length of stay and specific activities. Participants should be up to date on all their regular immunizations, check the CDC website for vaccinations and immunizations. In addition, specific travel vaccines such as typhoid, yellow fever, or rabies vaccines may be indicated. Various types of medication may also be needed to prevent life-threatening malaria or altitude illness; or to treat traveler’s diarrhea. Finally, students should learn and utilize insect precautions, food and water precautions, and general safety precautions. These can prevent illnesses such as dengue fever, schistosomiasis, HIV; or accidents such as those involving motor vehicles. In spite of all the precautions, occasionally students do become ill or sustain an injury while traveling. Thankfully, most of these are minor. However, it is critical that students have a clear plan of care in case of an emergency on their trip. The travel clinic at the Vaden Health Center has produced an online travel health module that provides comprehensive strategies to help you stay safe and healthy while traveling.

Students must review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for complete information regarding the health concerns and vaccine recommendations specific to India. Students must also discuss with the on-campus Vaden Health Center Travel Clinic or a travel health specialist about the best ways to protect their health.

Students must review the U. S. State Department’s Country Information for complete information on safety and security in India.

As with any foreign travel, students are advised to be alert to their surroundings, and be particularly aware of any health and safety advisories for the area in which they will be visiting. Students should consult with their health care provider(s) to be prepared for potential illness. Additional issues of personal health and safety and precautions will be discussed in detail during the mandatory pre-seminar preparation and upon arriving in the country.

If you are uncomfortable traveling under such conditions, you should not apply to this seminar.

Program Modification and Cancelation

Stanford reserves the right to cancel or modify the Program before or during its operation for any reason, including natural disasters, emergencies, low enrollment, unavailability of facilities or personnel, or compliance with the University travel policy at