during my research in Uttar Pradesh, I in-
troduced myself to an informant, B. K. Dubey,
in preparation for a structured interview, I first had to
quell his curiosity about my interest in the songs of the
region. The explanation I o√ered—that the inquiry was
prompted both by my desire to pay homage to the mem-
ory of my deceased father and by the opportunity this
provided for ‘‘reclaiming’’ the language of my ancestors—
so satisfied him that he warmed to me instantly. He
found it entirely appropriate for a daughter, especially
one married outside the community, to repay her debts in
this manner. I encountered such responses repeatedly
during fieldwork. Ironically, however, in discharging this
particular debt, I invariably incurred others over the
many years I spent in di√erent academic environments. It
is therefore a great pleasure to finally thank all those with-
out whom this book would not have been possible.
The knowledge and vision of several individuals have
impacted this project in countless ways. I could never
have imagined writing such a book had Arun Kumar, in
the late 1990s, not infected me with his enthusiasm for
documenting songs that are fast disappearing, his lyrical
Bhojpuri providing the impetus for my first tentative
translations. Our shared project and research for a docu-
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