In a wider bid to support creative and critical engagement in the region, Through Her Lens, a photography exhibition in Sikkim held in collaboration with Zubaan and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation under its Fragrance of Peace project, aims to explore new modes of participation with the audience by exhibiting in communal spaces around Namchi.  

As part of a series of programmes that will be held in Namchi in February 2020, the exhibition and discussion surrounding it will aim to understand the lack of visibility of women photographers in the Sikkim and Darjeeling Hills region, and develop viable strategies to support and facilitate spaces and networks for women interested in pursuing a career in photography.

Women from Sikkim and Darjeeling Hills are invited to submit images for the same. Selected works will be featured at a public exhibition in Namchi from 9-16 February 2020. Both aspiring and professional photographers are welcome to apply. Submissions can be made on either of the two themes, ‘Memory’ and ‘Migration’. For more information, visit this website.

We look forward to your submissions!

 

As we enter 2020 in the midst of nationwide mobilisations, the need to spark conversations and discussions on discriminatory systems is sharper than ever.

For the last year and a half, the Stepping Stones: Engaging with Youth in South Asia on Sexual Violence and Impunity and Body of Evidence projects, supported by IDRC and Goethe Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan, collaborated with various youth and theatre groups, activists and artists to open up spaces for discussions on sexual violence and impunity.

These projects have resulted in engagements with queer, trans, Dalit and other marginalized groups across India and Nepal (in partnership with Panos South Asia). Performance as Resistance is a culmination of this work — performances, poetry, documentaries and artwork that question state, legal, medical and social impunity — and the showcase hopes to engage different groups and audiences to contribute to our collective understanding of justice. 

Performance as Resistance: Countering sexual violence and impunity through art, poetry, and theatre will be held over the weekend of 11 and 12 January, 2020 at Goethe Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan.  A detailed schedule of both days is linked below.

Performance as Resistance schedule

We look forward to engaging with you on difficult questions in these difficult times.

We started November on a high note by launching our new anthologies published in collaboration with the Sasakawa Peace Foundation—‘The Many That I Am: Writings from Nagaland’ and ‘Crafting the Word: Writings from Manipur’—at the Arunachal Literature & Arts Festival. The books were also launched in Imphal, and the launch was featured in local newspaper ‘The People’s Chronicle’.

As part of India Habitat Centre’s Samanvay Festival, three of our Zubaan-SPF grantees—Leki Thungon, Hrishita Rajbangshi, and Ditilekha Sharma—were part of a panel titled Our Writings, Our Stories: New Voices from the Northeast. Moderated by Urvashi Butalia, the discussion centred around their experiences of conducting research in the Northeast. The discussion was also covered by mainstream media outlets

Supported by the Stepping Stones and Body of Evidence projects, this month saw more performances by Shabari Rao, Padmalatha Ravi and Anuradha HR as part of the Under the Raintree Women’s Cultural Festival in Bangalore. We also continued our #WednesdaysForWomensHistories social media campaign on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Some of these essays have also been reposted to media platforms like Livemint and Raiot.

We also continued posting the e-Essays of the Zubaan-SPF grantees (2018-19) on all our social media platforms under the #WednesdaysforWomensHistories hashtag. Make sure you’re following us to ensure that you don’t miss anything.


 

We started October on a high note by hitting the 1000 follower milestone on Instagram! We thank you for your continued support.

Cultures of Peace is an annual, event based project Zubaan has been collaborating on with Heinrich Böll Stiftung (India) since 2011. On 12 October, as part of Cultures, we held a series of discussions in Imphal, Manipur on the intersections of feminist and ecological activism. With a set of short film screenings at Manipur University on 11 October and a following day of conversations, we discussed the role of women’s activism in raising awareness of the socio-political and ecological effects of dam construction, women’s roles in sustainable agriculture and farming practices, and how local and indigenous communities are integral to the way in which efficient conservation practices work.

Facilitated by theatre practitioner Mallika Taneja, a script development workshop was held from  22-23rd of October at the Sahbagi Shikshan Kendra in Lucknow. Through warm up exercises and open discussions, Mallika assisted the groups in creating scripts that centred around various issues like sexual abuse and violence. On the second day of the workshop, the groups presented their performances.

This month, various performances that centred around the themes of sexual violence and impunity were also held in Manipur and Bangalore under the Stepping Stones and Body of Evidence projects.

As some of you may know, we have a series on Instagram where we focus on exploring and understanding different kinds of impunities. This month, we started looking at evidence and how its collection process reinforces certain kinds of impunity. With a special focus on the evidentiary process in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, we aim to unpack the idea of evidence itself, and debunk the notion that it is neutral and objective.

In continuation of our #WednesdaysforWomensHistories series on social media, we posted three new essays written by the grantees of the Zubaan- SPF Grants for Young Researchers from the Northeast. Make sure you’re following us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook so you’re always in the loop!

 


 

We started the month on a high note by presenting at IDRC’s South Asia Regional Meeting, where we talked about our projects, their impact, and our learning outcomes.

Our new release The Many That I Am: Writings from Nagaland, published in collaboration with the Sasakawa Peace Foundation under the Fragrance of Peace project (2018-19), hit shelves in the first week of the month. Written by Anungla Zoe Longkumer, it brings together a remarkable set of stories, poems, first-person narratives and visuals that reflect the many facets of women’s writing in Nagaland.

A discussion around sexual violence and resistance was organised in collaboration with the Department of Sociology, South Asian University, New Delhi, with Urvashi Butalia, Kathmandu based theatre artist and activist Ashmina Ranjit and Mallika Shakya. The discussion, besides being centred around the books A Difficult Transition:The Nepal Papers and Silence No Longer: Artivism of Ashmina, also touched upon the personal experience and activism of the panelists.

Various performances were held in Bengaluru and Imphal under the Stepping Stones and Body of Evidence projects. In Bengaluru, students of Azim Premji University and trans activist Shilok performed pieces that looked at sexual abuse and injustice at the Undergraduate Campus, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru. In Imphal, the performances were held at Law College Imphal and D.M University. Led by National School of Drama graduate Yengkokpam Purnima Devi, a team of theatre artists touched upon the justice system, the idea of the ‘perfect victim’, the state, and impunity through their performances.

September also saw the launch of our new weekly series on social media called #WednesdaysForWomensHistories, where we share e-Essays with you every Wednesday, written by the 2018-2019 grantees of our Zubaan-Sasakawa Peace Foundation Grants for Young Researchers from the Northeast. All the essays in this series centre around the broader framework of women’s multiple histories and gender in the Northeast.

Last but definitely not the least, we hit a follower milestone of 900 followers this month. Thank you for all the support!


 

August has been a great month for us!

In the first week of the month, 5 performances on sexual violence and impunity were held in Shillong under the Stepping Stones and Body of Evidence projects. The performances were an extension of the group’s first performance at the Guwahati Open Studio held in June. The performances also touched upon oppression, stereotypes, and the process of confronting memories of sexual violence and trauma.

Last month, we announced the grantees of the Zubaan-Sasakawa Peace Foundation grants for young researchers from the northeast (2019-2020). In August, a writing workshop was held for them in Guwahati. Through the grant process and methodology workshops, we endeavour to provide academic and structural support to the grantees.

We also continued our State Impunity series on Instagram, where we posted extracts from one of the books in our volumes on Sexual Violence and Impunity–Fault Lines of History: The India Papers II. The chapters, The chapters, written by Sahba Husain, Guneet Ahuja and Parijata Bhardwaj, looked at how militarisation and state impunity in Kashmir and Chhattisgarh has created an atmosphere of repression and violence. 

We interspersed the posting of the extracts with content from our Poster Women Archive, which serves a visual mapping of the women’s movement in India through the posters and visuals the movement has produced. The posters we used on Instagram addressed state impunity in particular, but if you want to access the whole archive, make sure you visit the Poster Women website!

We also hit a follower milestone of 800 followers! We sincerely appreciate all the love and support we’re getting.


 

July has been extremely eventful for us.

On the first day of the month, we officially launched our new Instagram account!

Our Instagram account is where we’re going to be announcing and documenting the various on-ground events we organize. Further, it’s a platform where we aim to initiate conversations about pertinent issues.

We also started our Impunity Series on Instagram, where over the next few months, we’re going to be exploring different kinds of impunities and understanding them in detail through textual and visual resources. We kicked off our series with State Impunity. Make sure you’re following us to stay up to date with everything we’re doing!

July also saw the official launch of our website. Our website contains detailed information about all our projects, and our blog section features recaps of what we’ve been upto each month.

In other news, on 10th July, we announced the 2019 Grantees of the Zubaan-Sasakawa Peace Foundation grants for young researchers from the north east. There were 25 grantees in total. A writing workshop with all the grantees is going to held on 5 August, 2019.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

We received an excellent response to our call for applications and while we were pleased to see the interest among young researchers, this also made our task of choosing grantees much more difficult. However, we were lucky to have the support of a strong and informed jury from the region, and this final selection is the result of their evaluation of your proposals. We’re delighted to inform you that the following candidates have been selected for the grant:

  • Pow Aim Hailowng
  • Anshu Agarwal
  • Chandrica Barua
  • Devika Shekhawat
  • Dixita Deka
  • Jabeen Yasmin
  • Jyotirmoy Talukdar
  • Keya Bardalai
  • Meghna Baruah
  • Nilanjanaa Bhattacharjee
  • Rituparna Sengupta
  • Shilpi Shikha Phukan
  • Betsame Lamar
  • Rosemary Ishorari
  • Hmingthanzuali Chhakchhuak
  • Iranggumle Hemang
  • Victoria Gingley Leyri
  • Biprajit Bhattacharjee
  • Juliana Phaomei
  • Kumam Davidson
  • Sainico Ningthoujam
  • Wangam Thokchom
  • Aqui Thami
  • Dipti Tamang
  • Tsheten Bhutia 

Congratulations! We’ll be getting in touch with all the grantees shortly, and look forward to working with you all.

We’d especially like to thank all applicants for the effort and thought that they put into their proposals. We hope that you will continue to engage with Zubaan’s work, and keep an eye out for future grants or other opportunities from us; and wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours.

Guwahati Open Studio (16 June)

 

The one day Open Studio held in Guwahati served as a space for people to take forward discussions about sexual violence and impunity using theatre and other performing arts. Each presentation was followed by a feedback session.  

Building on his journalism background, Gulal Salil shared a proposal of his documentary on sexual harassment in academia, tentatively titled ‘Due Process: A Legacy vs Life Situation’. His documentary will explore notions of sexual violence and harassment in the student community. 

Karry Padu and Yomge Chisi’s presentation centred around the documentary they wanted to make on polygamy in Arunachal Pradesh, titled ‘I am Property’. The presentation provided a background of the socio-economic and cultural practices of the Tani clan, and showed how the documentary proposes to link the issues of sexual violence and the lack of land rights for women. 

Rajashree Barman, Kasturi Kashyap, Torali Borah, Nilotpal Rajbangshi, Simanta Kalita and Himakshi Mazumdar performed a play that depicted the stigma attached to rape. Revolving around the story of two women, it portrayed the journey of the survivor from being victimised to coming out of the shadows. 

Lapdiang Syiem, Abigail Nongsiej, Clyde Herschel Thangkhiew and Rangchirik Ch. Marak from Shillong shared various stories. Abigail performed two poems she wrote––one was about oppressive stereotypes, and her second poem was a reaction to Beth’s story (featured in the India Papers II, of the SVI series).  Rangchirik’s piece looked at the complex process of confronting memories of sexual violence. Clyde’s work explored mental health, stigma, and trauma from the perspective of a male survivor of sexual abuse. Their performances relied purely on body movements and paint. 

Yengkhom Boycha, Thangjam Jatishor, Aheibam Chiranjit and Yengkokpam Purnima from Manipur presented their work in the form of chapters of a story. Their piece covered various instances of state impunity, issues of forensic evidence, and the lack of proper investigation in cases of sexual violence.

The feedback sessions involved the audience giving the participants valuable suggestions about how to enhance their performances and make them more accessible to the public. 

 


Bangalore Open Studio (1 June)

An open studio was held in Bangalore as a follow up of our earlier workshop in February. The objective was to go beyond the written word and initiate discussions on sexual violence and impunity using theatre and other performing arts. The six performances explored various kinds of impunity–social impunity, impunity within the justice system (to name a few)–and also covered themes like sexual violence, trauma and consent. 

Shabari Rao’s performance looked at how women in positions of systemic power negotiate multiple and often opposing demands. Her character, a senior police officer, had to navigate and deploy power around class, religion, caste, gender and her position. Her piece demonstrated the relationship between systemic power and individual discretion.

Nisha Gulur and Sreekanth Rao’s performance was built on the presentation made by Nisha at an earlier, which explored her life as a trans woman. The performance also addressed themes like the intersection of trans people’s lives and the law.

Vidya and Chandra Keerthi’s performance used folk poetry and fables to address how gender binaries are formed, and how gender based violence is normalized. The performance approached the phenomenon of social impunity and its complicity in the perpetration of sexual violence. 

Padmalatha Ravi’s presentation touched upon ideas of the nation and nationalism, statehood and belonging. By using her personal memories of significant historical events, such as the assassination of Indira Gandhi, the Gujarat riots and the rape and murder of Manorama Devi in Manipur, she addressed the nature of memory and trauma. 

Shilok Mukkati’s performance was a powerful personal testimonial of her life as a trans woman and her subsequent gender reassignment surgery. The themes that she addressed were male and trans rape – personal experiences of being sexually abused as a boy, her struggles with the body that she was born with, her sex reassignment surgery and the implications and experiences of that decision. 

Anuradha HR and Umesh’s performance drew heavily from Hindu mythology. They dissected the story of the three sisters Amba, Ambika and Ambalika and looked at it from different lenses to bring out themes of gender, sexual violence, revenge, consent, and justice.

 

 

 Nepal Open Studio

 

 On 24 May 2019, Zubaan and Panos South Asia organized a one day Open Studio in Kathmandu, Nepal. Organizations like Photocircle, NexUs Culture Nepal, Word Warriors, Katha Ghera and Educational Theatre in Nepal (ETIN) took part in the event. Participants explored the themes of sexual violence and impunity through diverse performance arts like theatre and slam poetry. Each performance was followed by a feedback session where interesting points were raised about the performances and the subject matter in general. 

Pragati Parajuli and Yashwaswi Karki from Word Warriors used slam poetry to address sexual violence from the survivor’s perspective. Participants from Katha Ghera performed parts of their home production, ‘Private is Political’. The pieces touched upon the impunity that operates within the family and the justice system. 

 

The spoken word poetry performed by Nisha Karki from Word Warriors took a very unique approach to address sexual violence and impunity. Her poems were monologues of inanimate objects (the seat of a bus, a pen, etc.) that explained sexual violence of various forms taking place in different locations and circumstances. Sunaina Panthy, along with her group Educational Theatre in Nepal (ETIN) presented a play that referenced the 2018 rape and murder of Nirmala Pant, and portrayed the post-incident psychological state of the victim’s mother.

 

Yukta Bajracharya from Word Warriors recited a poem originally written by Sivangi Khadka that recalled the testimonials of sexual violence from various parts of India. Trailokya Raj Bajgain presented his poem, which was based on his research about Nangeli–a woman from Kerala who protested against caste based discrimination in the 19th century. 

At the end of the day, certain performances were selected to be showcased inside and outside Kathmandu at various law and medical schools.