Introducing our Grantees! 



The Zubaan Publishers Research Grants for Young Researchers from the Northeast, 2022-23, were announced in November 2022 and invited applications from young women, queer, trans and non-binary people from Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, and the hill regions of districts Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong, below 45 years of age and working actively within the community.

The selected grantees will look at historically marginalised women, queer, feminist and oral histories from community researchers, writers, artists, etc., focusing on building narratives through storytelling, podcasts, visual mediums, research papers, etc. Read on to get to know our grantees’ backgrounds, interests, and exciting research proposals better!


1. Anshu Chhetri (she/her) 

Food, Memory, and Identity: Oral histories and culinary practices 

Anshu is a literature student interested in reading, researching and writing. She comes from the Dooars region of West Bengal, which forms the gateway to Bhutan from India. Her articles are published on websites and journals like LiveWire, OnEating, and Youth ki Awaaz

Anshu’s research will explore the theme of gustatory nostalgia, culinary practices, and how recipes are narratives that show the connection with people and their life memories. She will focus on the gender norms which keep women from occupying powerful positions in the public sphere of food production/preparation. Her argument will also see women from the lens of the power conferred on them with a form of ‘culinary capital’ within their diasporic community. 

Anshu is deeply interested in discovering more about the recipes passed down through the female line, where food is a female inheritance and part of a collective feminine past. This kind of intergenerational cultural transmission between women links them to their ‘homeland’ and the past and creates an identity for a diasporic community. Through her research, Anshu will address this issue of identity formation through food cultures. 

2. Arpita Chakraborty (she/her), cowriter 

Unwinding the Patterns of Lecheri Ballad: A gendered perspective of Sonowal Kachari’s folklife 

Arpita writes, performs, and curates her ideas into audio-visuals. She is a university student working towards a sustainable and binary-free world. She is inspired and motivated to work towards creating awareness and alliances across the gender spectrum to detangle the social, political, and emotional realities of the community and to overcome social norms through creative pursuit. She is a master’s student in women’s and gender studies. 

Nasrin Shahnaz (she/her), cowriter 

Nasrin is a PhD scholar in the department of English, Cotton University, Guwahati, Assam. Her research interests are gender studies, queer narratives, cultural studies, and Indian literature. She is currently engaged in researching transgender literary representation in Indian narratives. As a literature student and an avid reader, she aspires to devote her voice to society’s well-being. 

Arpita and Nasrin’s research will delve into the historical development, characteristics, and significance of the particular folk art, Lecheri Geet and Dance, through a gendered stance, since Lecheri is the only performing folk art of the Sonowal Kacharis, an ethnic tribe in Assam that is solely female-oriented. Lecheri means the leftover paddy scraps on a harvested paddy field. Moreover, the term Lecheri has a negative connotation that refers to someone who has been abandoned. Their research will examine the representation of women in a folk practice associated with the leftovers of a harvested paddy field. One of the researchers has a mixed origin of Sonowal Kachari and Bengali parenthood. Therefore, this study will be self-reflexive. 

3. Chhaya Namchu (she/her) 

The Story of a Himalayan Town through the Voice of Rebecca Namchu 

Chhaya is from Kalimpong and belongs to the Indigenous Lepcha community. She has been working on climate action, transboundary rivers, and changing ecosystems across sectors and organisations. Much of her work is inspired by her life and Lepcha heritage, which is deeply embedded in nature and community. 

The freedom struggle for India was not lost on the citizens of Kalimpong—a town that was part of the old silk route, in the ’50s, a hub for European, American, and Chinese spies, and finally saw the Gorkhaland movement in the ’80s. These stories of Kalimpong are articulated through colonial and patriarchal perspectives. 

Chhaya will explore the unwritten story of her great-grandmother, Rebecca Namchu (1884- 1958), popularly known as David Babuni after her husband, David Babu. She was widowed at 26 and became the first President of the Indigenous Lepcha Association in 1922. Rebecca would go on to lobby for the inclusion of the Lepchas under the Tribes of India in 1951. As an indigenous tribal woman, Chhaya will reflect on how easy it is to diminish the stories of women from ‘marginalised communities’. 

4. Esther Suantak (she/her) 

Exploring the Lived Experiences of Refugee Women in Manipur 

Esther is a research scholar pursuing a PhD at Manipur University, under the Department of Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy. Her research is titled ‘Gender Relations and Governance in Tribal Areas of Manipur’.
She completed her master’s degree in women’s studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and holds a Bachelor of Social Work in St. Edmunds’ College, Shillong. She works with the NGO Social Human Action for Rural Empowerment. 

Since 2020, the world has witnessed both a pandemic and many localised conflicts. Myanmar experienced this double burden, with political instability happening alongside the pandemic. Specific communities suffered discrimination and atrocities, where human rights were violated. As a result, many from these communities, including women, took refuge in Manipur. 

Esther will focus on women’s experiences in these communities and how they relate to their current context. She will study how these women envision their lives in a place where they migrated with hopes of a better future. 

5. Haidamteu Zeme N (she/her) 

Existing Within In-Betweens: Narrativising the Northeast migrant-woman experience

Haidam is a research fellow at the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) department at IIT, Delhi. Her research interests include translation studies, comparative literature, indigenous cultures, and their language systems and movements. Her essay ‘What Role does Translation Play for the Nagas? A personal account’ was published as part of DRC, Delhi University, international conference proceedings in 2019. Her poem ‘Perfunctory Citizen’ was published in Dark Lanes of the City (2020). She maintains a personal blog on her translation journey at www.translationfornagas.wordpress.com. In her (not-so-free) free time, she does some embroidery, bad watercolour art, thrifts second-hand baubles, and chats with her cat Sir Thomas Zeme. 

Haidam is interested in documenting the lived experiences of migrant women. She will specifically study the ‘Northeast position’ through a gendered lens to highlight ‘migrant-woman’ as a site to which ideas of womanhood and honour, as well as religious, cultural, financial, and community aspirations are tethered. The term ‘Northeast’ is a marker to reiterate a feeling of ‘in-between-ness’ that individuals from these places experience, especially heightened for the migrant figure who leaves ‘home’ in the pursuit of dreams, for many reasons.  Her paper will examine narratives of Northeastern women who have lived in dual places: city and home, and how they navigate existence. Through an interview approach, she hopes to arrive at a critical, reflective, and nuanced articulation of ‘something’— perhaps political, ambiguous, and polysemic, and hopes to document the ‘everyday’. 

6. Jayashree Narzary (she/her) 

Re-framing Dominant Narratives: A study of lived experiences of former women cadres of BLT from Bodoland 

Jayashree is a full-time dog mother and a part-time research enthusiast. 

As a political science postgraduate, she looks forward to exploring socio-political histories and multilayered realities of the region she comes from. 

Jayashree’s research will focus on the lived experiences of the women cadres of the Bodoland Liberation Tigers. She will aim to explore the multilayered-complex realities of how these women create a space for themselves, assert their identity, and history, and critically engage with its connection to memory and agency in negotiating the minutiae of everyday life. 

7. Jobeth Ann Warjri (she/her) 

Ecology and the Lives of Washerwomen and Subsistence Farmers in Laitkor, Meghalaya 

Jobeth Ann Warjri is a writer and researcher from Laitkor, Meghalaya. She is currently based out of Hyderabad, Telangana. Her paper will study the lives of washerwomen and subsistence farmers within the context of ecological transformations in Meghalaya in peri-urban spaces.

The women who will be interviewed represent interesting case studies because their means of livelihood are intimately connected to ecological factors, including citizenship, land rights, and climate change. The participants of the ethnographic study are chosen because of their engagement with worldviews and socio-ecological entities that are precarious. 

8. Mimi Pachuau (she/her) 

Finding Nula Seniar 

Mimi enjoys writing and taking photographs, though that does not happen as often as she would like to. Words that sit in her heart and images that she captures often do not make sense to her. On some rare occasions, when she manages to weave them together to tell stories, she hopes they would make living a little easier for those who read. Her training is in English literature, sociology and history. She currently teaches history at ICFAI University, Mizoram. 

Her research area includes a history of education, Mizo society, Christianity, gender roles, and historical trauma. She is passionate about hiking, drinking industrial amounts of tea and coffee, and still trying to make peace with the long wet season of fur (monsoon) in Mizoram. 

In Mizoram, nula senior’ means older unmarried woman, with a hint of both teasing and dismay. The popular term hides contemporary Mizo society’s numerous social problems, the turbulent decades of the second half of the 20th century, and the social changes brought about by British colonisation from the end of the 19th century. The term’s use varies from region to region, and from church denominations across economic status, among other factors. 

Mimi will aim to study the dynamics and complexity of this traditionally derogatory term and its connections with other pressing issues of gender roles and the ‘dying Mizo men’ (the extremely high mortality among Mizo men from the last decade till today, unofficially considered a social and demographic crisis). She will try to understand who is a nula seniar, how they navigate life in public and private spaces, what their social status is and what their future holds. 

9. Nangsel Sherpa (she/her) 

Mapping My Grandmother’s Footprints: Gendering migration in the Eastern Himalayas 

Nangsel is a researcher from the Darjeeling Hills. Her research interests lie in gender, migration, and minority rights. She is also the co-founder of The Pomelo: Exploring Himalayan Voices, an e-magazine. 

Nangsel’s personal history is intertwined with the history of cross-border migration from Nepal and Tibet to India. Her maternal grandmother migrated from Tibet in search of her parents and was stopped by the Chinese military twice. On the other hand, her paternal grandmother migrated to Darjeeling from Nepal with her elder sister for a better future without knowing exactly where she was headed. 

These stories gave her two perspectives on migration, exposing the complexity and nuances generally missed in the good- vs bad-migrant discourse. Through her research, Nangsel hopes to look closely at the gendered history of migration in the Eastern Himalayas, mapping experiences from Tibet and Nepal to India. She will focus on the socio-political conditions that shaped women’s experiences of migration with an emphasis on the question of labour as new migrants to a foreign country. 

10. Dr Naomi Carey Nonglait (she/her) 

Khasi Traditional Musicians Unsung women 

Naomi works in the department of English at St. Mary’s College, Shillong. She has published articles in journals and books on Khasi folklore, oral literature, culture, tradition, children’s literature, and identity. She has also presented several papers at regional, national, and international conferences and seminars and has read her poems at poetry/literary workshops. During her spare time, she trains ST students, at an official centre, to prepare for entrance exams for government staff positions. Her interests include involving youth through Rangers and training aspirants to become Rangers. Her passion is to research areas that have been overlooked or neglected. 

Naomi will research Khasi women who play traditional music and instruments, which are played mostly by men. Khasi musical instruments are used in religious rituals, weddings, and other customary practices. But many indigenous ways have changed, including those of performance and music. This research will look at the ways and means of preserving something that could be lost, despite a revival of folk singing and traditional musical instruments. For example, stories used to be narrated orally around the hearth, accompanied by the duitara. Stories have now moved to the digital sphere, including Facebook and Instagram. 

Her research would also involve interviews with some Khasi women folk musicians, also focussing on their songs and songwriting. The change in the songs’ themes provides evidence of the changes in Khasi society. Just as the hearth has been moved to the digital sphere, she hopes that digitising or writing about the Khasi women folk singers/musicians could create a space for narratives of a different kind.

11. Nicky Chandam (she/her) 

Judging a Book by its Cover 

Nicky is an enthusiastic and passionate story-seeker from India. She was born in Imphal, Manipur. She explores stories through the medium of photography, written words, the oral tradition of storytelling, and the art of listening. She practices as a director, writer, performer, and curator of art dialogues. Nicky is vocal about mental health issues and strongly advocates for accessible and affordable mental health services in India. She is also the founder of the Octave Foundation, which was built with a vision to bring people together to celebrate the cultural diversity of our planet. 

Nicky’s film, through the lives of people in Manipur, will explore how clothing creates gender narratives. 

12. Nokho N (she/her) 

Courtesans in the Chakhesang Naga Society during the Pre-Christian Era 

Nokho is a slow traveller and a freelance writer. Her first love remains learning about the oral narratives of her ancestors. What began as a small attempt to find answers to her existential crisis eventually became a lifelong quest to trace her roots and make them relevant to the new Generation. After spending the last decade with the older population, her findings are slowly finding their way to mass consumption through articles, poetry, and books. 

Thünoküthami or Thethenumi are words the Chakhesang and the Angami Nagas use to refer to women courtesans during the pre-Christian era. The profession was ostracised with the dawn of Christianity, so even talking about them was highly stigmatised. Even today, they continue to slip through the cracks of written records and all other documentation, as if they never existed. However, some evidence remains about their lives and contribution to society, which risks being wiped out if not documented. Nokho’s research aims to explore the life of the Thethenumis and shed light on their lives in the hope of serving as a voice for the women who lived in the shadows of society and never enjoyed any rights, eventually facing early demise due to the dire conditions they lived in.

13. Renu Koyu (she/her) 

Paper on Galo women foragers, indigenous food sovereignty, and climate change, untitled 

Renu is a research scholar at the department of English at University of Delhi. Her areas of interest include oral narratives, ecofeminism, new animism, food studies, speculative fiction, and detective fiction. 

In Arunachal Pradesh, Galo women foragers sustain the indigenous food sovereignty of their community but this contribution is unrecognised by the community. Renu’s research will study these women’s contribution to indigenous food sovereignty and the systemic invisibilisation of this role. 

Galo women foragers are intimately connected to nature as custodians of traditional ecological knowledge. Acknowledging this, Renu will explore how the climate crisis has changed the landscape through empirical knowledge gathered by women while foraging in the hills they call home, and how the crisis will eventually affect the community’s food sovereignty and the women’s livelihood. 

14. Rishav Thakur (he/they) 

Curating Queerness 

Rishav is doing their PhD in sociocultural anthropology and queer studies at Columbia University. He studies articulations of and the practice of queer affinity across religious, racial and other politicised differences. Rishav’s research is supported by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; The Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life; and The Institute for the Study of Sexuality and Gender at Columbia University.

Rishav enjoys writing and thinking across different genres and media. They serve as the South Asia editor for Borderlines, a student-run open-access journal. He is a fellow at Domestic Insurgencies, a Feminist working group investigating the processual aspects of home and the domestic, and at A Tale of Three Rivers, which brings together scholars and artists working on the real and imagined histories of Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra. 

Rishav plans to curate a multimedia exhibition of queerness in Assam involving objects, photographs, audio, and text. The exhibition seeks to engage in conversations around the complicated relation between queerness, visuality, and the dominant gaze. 

15. Rituparna Neog (they/she) 

Finding Queer Resilience in Rural Assam through Bhauna, Rati Bihu, and Lora Raax 

Rituparna is a leading queer rights activist from Assam and a poet, storyteller, and development sector worker. They are the founder and director of the Akam Foundation, which works in Northeast India on gender justice and education, and a co-founder of Drishti, a queer collective working on the visibility of the LGBTQA+ community. Rituparna has been working closely with schools, colleges, universities,  and CSOs in Assam to create awareness of gender and sexuality through talks and workshops with students, teachers, and grassroots workers. They are leading the campaign #NoMoreHoldingMyPee which demands gender-neutral toilets and choice-based uniforms in educational institutions in Assam. 

They have also founded a community library project with children from marginalised communities in Assam called Project Kitape Katha Koi (‘Books Speak for Children’), and run a community library in Ahatguri village of Jorhat district for more than a hundred children from five villages and one tea estate. Rituparna is a governing board member of the Free Libraries Network (FLN) India and South Asia, where they lead curriculum and capacity development within the network and regional coordination in Northeast India.

They write poetry and prose that share both the anguishes and joys of being queer, of our societies, and of holding each other through collective spaces. Rituparna loves responding to concerns and issues around society through children’s literature. They read stories to both children as well as adults.

Rituparna has been working on mobilising and organising the queer community in Assam with a special focus on rural areas and small towns. As a trans* person from rural Assam, their lived experience showed them a different way of queer resilience in a rural reality. Through their research, they will explore the lived experiences of queer folks in rural Assam, different agencies and spaces for them, and their ways of finding resilience. They will document stories and elements with a focus on folk elements and different agencies of queer people through a photo essay narrative. 

16. Romik Sai (she/her) 

Queer Politics in Arunachal Pradesh: The intersection of sexuality, ethnicity, and gender in Arunachal Pradesh 

Romik is a student of gender studies at Dr BR Ambedkar University, Delhi. Her interests lie in art and culture, tribal studies, and collecting pretty notebooks she rarely uses. In her free time, she enjoys reading and painting. 

Romik’s study begins by underpinning the lacuna in the study of the queer subaltern, seen more starkly in the northeastern part of India. Against this background, her study aims to look at the politics of queerness in Arunachal Pradesh vis-à-vis the spaces occupied by queer-identifying people. Her focus will be on the growing queer movement and how it enables a new form of assertion for queer people of the region. She will attempt to study the politics of queerness in Arunachal Pradesh while keeping in mind the intersection of ethnicity, rich oral history, sexuality and gender in the concerned region. She will seek to understand how queer people create a distinct space for themselves, along with how language can be an arena of either a queer assertion or queer invisibilisation. 

17. Schulu Duo (he/him) 

Project on the women liquor brewers of Imphal, untitled 

Schulu is an aspiring anthropologist and documentary filmmaker. 

Schulu’s project aims to contribute to the liquor prohibition debate in Manipur. It will aim to highlight the struggles of Rongmei women in the Imphal valley who have been brewing and selling alcohol as an age-old practice and as a source of income. 

18. Swarnim Subba (she/her) 

Tagera Ningwaphuma: A biography of grandmother-goddess 

Swarnim is a research scholar in the department of English literature and cultural studies at SRM University, Sikkim. She has completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Jyoti Nivas College, Bangalore University. After qualifying for the SLET exam, she started her teaching career as an assistant professor of English at  Sikkim Government College, Burtuk. Presently she is working on a translation of the Limboo book of poetry, Sister’s Voices by B L Khamdhak, into English. Her current research interests focus on trans indigenous studies, shamanistic poetics, indigenous spirituality and healing, and native poetics. 

Creation stories and narratives of our various spiritual and indigenous cultures and traditions worldwide have celebrated and glorified goddesses and their feminine power and authority. However, as time passed, and with increasing patriarchal dominance, the worship of goddesses remained merely symbolic, mostly represented and interpreted by male clergies. Swarnim proposes to write a biography of the supreme goddess of her Limboo tribe—Tagera Ningwaphuma, her manifestations, her creations, and the story of the first woman Mujikna Kheyongna and her progeny. This first-ever biography in English aims to record, preserve and protect our worldviews, cosmology and belief system, thereby filling up the much- needed gap in intergenerational memory. It will also enable us to reflect and learn, and to make sense of our lives in these contemporary times. Swarnim wants interpreting these narratives to heal the scars of amnesia and alienation beyond ethnic or community affiliations. Our oral and religious text Mundhum incorporates many stories, myths, legends, sermons, prehistoric chronicles, and cultural traditions. Much of this knowledge tradition has been lost, or has never been told from the perspective of indigenous feminist spirituality. Swarnim’s retelling of this story as a Limboo woman is the act of re-membering her ancestors and the past.

19. Synshar (she/her) 

Bei Kupli (Mother Kupli)/Jaintia Queens 

Jowai and London-based artist Synshar completed her bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the Chelsea College of Arts. Her practice explores the diversity within the people who call India home, and the role of indigenous people in India. It delimits the domestic landscape of India through the lens and experiences of an indigenous person. 

A multimedia artist, she explores ideas surrounding traditions, crafts, rituals, tea, and the warmth of domestic spaces. She uses these ideas to speak about people, culture, and identity, while simultaneously decolonising these elements by celebrating them. 

If you happen to walk by an elder in town, or hear stories from your parents or grandparents, you may often hear the stories and myths of the people, Gods, and Goddesses who roamed and lived around the hills where the Pnar people reside. They are storytellers by nature; even the most mundane of events will begin and end like a story. The way they describe people is a story, for each river that flows through those hills is a story. 

One story Synshar has heard, whilst listening to her father and his friend converse, is of the Jaintia Queens and Bei Kupli. Through the emphasis and tradition of oral storytelling, she will explore whether there is a relation between the two, for this linkage remains unclear. If there is found to be no connection, exploration about who they are and their stories will be form the work. 

20. Yoši Zaua (he/him) 

Now That We’re Here/Q for Life 

A self-taught illustrator with skills nurtured and honed during the lockdown of 2020, Yoši’s visual language is the amalgamation of various creative personae spanning the fields of performance, photography, music, and visual art. His creative practice stems from exploring themes of identity and power from counter-hegemonic perspectives, using fiction and illustration as an extension of embodied experiences. 

With no pressure to adhere to a specific form or aesthetic, his works grow and expand in various directions as he engages in diverse ranges of graphic design, illustration, animation, and character design. Yoši has recently collaborated with various artists in Canada, Germany, Thailand, and India, which compounds his interdisciplinary interests into concocting new and customisable methods for different artistic trajectories. Part-memoir, part-fantasy, this project is an autobiographical fiction drawing upon bizarre encounters of queer folk as they leave the safety of their artist bubble and enter heteronormative institutions. An illustrated journal catalogued as comic strips, this project dares to embody the living secrets of queer folk with boldness and humour and serve as an archive of conversations and photographs of real interviews and lived experiences.

Project Bulletin #06

The sixth edition of the Project Bulletin returns with Poster Women, which began in 2006 as a visual mapping and documentation of the women’s movement in India through the posters the movement and its campaigns had produced.

Project Bulletin helps our readers reconnect with our past and ongoing projects so that as our projects and partnerships grow, our readers have a sense of continuity about our work.


Project Background

The women’s movement was—and remains—a vibrant and complex one, which lacks an easily-accessible knowledge base. Poster Women asks how its history would look through the posters and images it has used. Answering this question was only possible with the help of women’s groups and students from various parts of the country who helped us source posters, often locating them in personal collections gathering dust in offices or organizing workshops to discuss the importance of preserving this otherwise ephemeral form of documentation.

The archive houses 1500 posters covering caste, disability, sexuality, the environment, marginalisation, and more. They are organised thematically and annotated with the date, the campaign, the designer, the story/concept behind the poster, and how it was used. Short essays by activists also provide background information demonstrating the multi-faceted histories of women’s movements. Out of the 1500 posters, we selected 200 for an exhibition which travelled to several places within and outside India. 

The exhibitions served to provide possibilities of interaction and viewership in a physical space; the web archive provides open access to these posters, which a physical space could not adequately provide, though we are aware that the internet too limits access in many ways.

We hope that the archive will serve women’s groups, and feminist activists, while also being helpful for students and researchers in women’s studies, visual culture, arts and aesthetics, and anyone who loves posters! 

Painting Our World: Women’s Messages through Art

Poster Women’s second phase was Painting Our World: Women’s Messages through Arta travelling exhibition of various forms of traditional artistic expression: paintings, embroidery, crafts, and other visual media by women artists from all over the country. The collection was curated with the help of writer and craft promoter Minhazz Majumdar. 

The exhibition travelled to Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Jaipur, Vadodara, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Shillong, and Imphal, documenting and showcasing these artistic works that rural women have used to engage with social issues like violence against women, dowry, and HIV/AIDS. 

These forms of expression are created and devised by marginalised and socially excluded (tribal and Dalit) women and address issues ranging from livelihood rights, health awareness, communalism, and violence to marriage and domestic work. 

The exhibits showcased include:

• Madhubani from Bihar

• Patachitra from West Bengal

• Contemporary Phad paintings from Rajasthan

• Appliqué embroidery from Orissa

• Jogi art from Gujarat

• Sujuni embroidery from Bihar

• Lambani embroidery from Karnataka

• Khovar paintings from Hazaribagh, Jharkhand

• Gond art from Madhya Pradesh

• Khatwa from Bihar


Project Bulletin #05

The fifth edition of the Project Bulletin is here! Project Bulletin helps our readers reconnect with our past and ongoing projects so that as our projects and partnerships grow, our readers have a sense of continuity about our work.

This edition of the Project Bulletin recaps the linked projects Body of Evidence & Stepping Stones: Engaging with Youth in South Asia, which built upon the work of the Sexual Violence and Impunity (SVI) project.  


Project(s) Background

Body of Evidence and Stepping Stones, in combination, aimed at starting dialogue with youth about sexual violence through a combination of rigorous research with creative expression like theatre, art, and poetry, with the hope that youth become active and key champions against sexual violence.

Our longtime partners Goethe-Institut / MMB supported the Body of Evidence project. Stepping Stones was funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the work was based in India (Zubaan) and Nepal (Panos South Asia).

The projects acknowledge the seriousness of misinformation amongst young people about sexual conduct and sexual violence, topics that youth are encouraged not to discuss openly, and instead repress.

Therefore, to create space for these conversations in an accessible and inclusive ways, theatre, slam poetry and performance were deployed to reach out to, for example, young students and professionals focussing on medical, forensic and legal forms of sexual violence and impunity.

Some of the material generated

Participatory workshops, open studios, artwork, etc, resulted in fifty performances and documentary screenings across the projects’ locations: Karnataka, Manipur, Meghalaya, Delhi, Kathmandu, and Pokhara. These performances took place in universities, law schools, medical colleges, and other institutions to engage the projects’ target audience.

Dalit, queer, and indigenous illustrators also used the twenty-six English and forty-nine Nepali alphabets to interpret concepts linked to impunity for sexual violence, and the fight against it. This feminist typographic project is The Alphabet of Violence & Resistance and is open for public viewing as part of a permanent archive.

Creative practitioners with the Body of Evidence-Stepping Stones projects (in India and Nepal) used performing arts like theatre and slam poetry as a medium to invoke and challenge structures of impunity. Sister projects across South Asia, also funded by the IDRC, had youth and community-led research programmes, and more. You can read about these projects in greater detail here.

In January 2020, a two-day showcase of performances, poetry, documentaries and artwork questioning impunity took place in New Delhi. Fourteen groups of the projects’ artists put up seventeen performances, and a discussion with the performers followed each session.

The extended final phase of the work had to be adapted when the pandemic began, and activities shifted to the digital medium. Part of this online programming was the October 2020 launch of I Am Property, a documentary that explores polygyny and impunity in the context of Arunachal Pradesh’s customary laws.

The screening was followed by a discussion on gender and rights in indigenous communities, and customary institutions. The documentary was also the official selection at Northeast International Documentary and Film Festival 2023.


Zubaan Publishers Research Grants for Young Researchers from the Northeast, 2022-23 Final Grantees Announcement 



Last month we called for applications for the Zubaan Publishers Research Grants for Young Researchers from the Northeast, 2022-23, as part of Fragrance of Peace. Through this work, we hope to fund projects exploring narratives of historically marginalised women’s, queer, feminist, and oral histories from the region.

We were thrilled by the response to our call from young writers, researchers, and artists from the Northeast who submitted well-thought-out proposals with several exciting ideas. We thank you for your effort and for sharing your stories with us.

After the difficult yet necessary task of shortlisting the grantees, we have selected the following final grant recipients:

  1. Anshu Chhetri
  2. Arpita Chakraborty & Nasrin Shahnaz
  3. Chhaya Namchu
  4. Esther Vaipei
  5. Haidmateu Zeme N
  6. Jayashree Narzary
  7. Jobeth Ann Warjri
  8. Joshua Sailo
  9. Mimi Pachuau
  10. Nangsel Sherpa
  11. Naomi C. Nonglait
  12. Nicky Chandam
  13. Nokho Nyekha
  14. Renu Koyu
  15. Rishav Thakur
  16. Rituparna Neog
  17. Romik Sai
  18. Schulu Duo
  19. Swarnim Subba
  20. Synshar Pde

We congratulate our grantees and keenly look forward to their forthcoming projects under this grant!


Project Bulletin #04

We are back with the fourth edition of the Project Bulletin. The Bulletin gives readers a quick recap of our projects so that as our projects and partnerships grow, our readers have a sense of continuity about our work.  

For this edition, we give you a run-through of the Sexual Violence and Impunity (SVI) project below. 

Project Background

Various South Asian countries have seen an exponential rise in sexual violence. There was a deafening silence around these incidents (such as the Partition, the liberation war of Bangladesh, or internal and cross-border conflicts and insurgent movements across the region).  Structural barriers that have perpetuated silence and impunity meant that very few speak out, with the state of impunity remaining largely unchallenged.

The SVI project recognised and sought to meet the need to document and study the history and prevalence of mass sexual violence in South Asia. By collaborating on this subject and bringing our collective and comparative expertise to bear on it, we hoped not only to learn from each other but also to show a way to begin a dialogue of peace on a complex subject. 

Some of the material created

Fifty-five research papers were commissioned covering law, medical and forensic issues, historical perspectives, militarisation, states of exception, and more.

 The project gathered a community of (mostly young) researchers and produced the results in six country-based volumes and two standalone books.

The SVI Project concluded in 2016, and the Stepping Stones and Body of Evidence built on the learnings from the project, aiming to take these learnings further and in different ways. We will talk about this more in our next Bulletin!




[Find a PDF version of this call here]

Zubaan Publishers is offering a number of research, documentation, archiving and publishing grants for 2022-23 for young researchers from the eight northeastern states and the eastern Himalayan region. The grants provide a modest fund to prepare written, multimedia, visual and other creative content focusing on the themes detailed below in the call.


Zubaan Publishers have been working with researchers, writers, photographers, artists, etc. for the past decade and more to support the feminist movement in the Northeast India region. Our work prioritizes knowledge production from indigenous feminist perspectives and provides a platform for this knowledge through books, essays (making these available online and offline), visual archives, exhibitions, etc. Born out of this vision, the Fragrance of Peace project attempts to reconfigure the lens through which the Northeast and its contiguous region are viewed by, or placed in the social, economic and political landscape of mainland India and beyond.

It is continually defined, described and constrained within a particular identity that deprives it of its internal richness and variety. This region, slightly less than a third of the total in India, is home to many peoples, religions, ethnicities, customs, practices, languages and histories. Their collective grouping, the brainchild of colonial administrative practices, has also become a marker of their ‘separateness’ as an entity, despite their wide internal variety. An argument that is often used to hold the category of ‘the Northeast’ together is an assumed similarity of ethnic identity – and yet, not only are these states ethnically very diverse, but ethnicity often extends beyond state and national borders into other, neighbouring territories.

To continually push the homogeneity of identity in popular cultures and socio-anthropological studies does a massive disservice to the region’s diversity and also contributes to its marginalisation, structurally binding it to the idea of an imagined periphery. However, a growing body of work in the region is effectively transforming the narrative of the periphery. Our work hopes to support, build and collaborate with the communities that are writing their own histories while charting new maps of language and vocabulary rooted in community wisdom.

Details of the Research Grant

This research grant, now in its fifth year, hopes to encourage young writers, researchers and artists to contribute to the diversification of knowledge production. It supports work within the broad framework/themes mentioned below examined through the lens of gender.


Previous themes have prioritised issues not covered by mainstream media. This year, expanding the grant’s ambit, we invite proposals from young researchers working to centre the diverse forms of knowledge production embedded in the region, to build a repository of its multiple, rich histories.

We strongly encourage applications which look at women’s, queer, feminist and oral histories, from community researchers, writers, artists, etc. who have been historically marginalized not only in terms of the mainland but within the region as well. Through this grant, we hope to support such groups and individuals in telling their own stories on their own terms and to therefore contribute to the growing body of knowledge. The applications can focus on building a narrative through storytelling, podcasts, visual mediums, research papers, etc. and the scope of the research and output has to be completed within the grant period of 8 months. The paper/content themes can focus on community histories, experiences during the pandemic, notes on lived realities, political and social commentary, cultural production, labour and migrant relations, indigenous histories, etc. Please note that these examples are indicative and not exhaustive.

The final submissions will be in English (though we hope to develop the capacity to support work in other regional languages in the future). For multimedia content, the language can be non-English but subtitles/transcripts in English have to be provided. All papers/content written with the support of the grant will be published electronically by Zubaan Publishers on various digital platforms. They may also be compiled in other formats and made widely available.

The proposals may be for academic research papers, long-form journalistic essays or long interviews, visual essays, graphic stories on a particular subject, audiovisual content, etc. thematically aligned with the call. Hybrid or creative forms are welcome.

[Note: Papers which are a part of an ongoing or recently completed PhD thesis will not be covered by this grant.]

All selected candidates will be allotted individual mentors for the grant duration of 8 months (from the date of signing the contract) and will have access to a network/mentorship panel consisting of writers, researchers, artists, etc. who will support, guide and provide additional perspectives to the candidates work.

Eligibility criteria

  1. If you are from Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura and are less than 45 years of age, you are eligible to apply. The research grant is also open for applicants from hill regions of districts Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong.

[Note: Preference will be given to candidates based locally and working actively within the community.]

  1. You must be fluent in reading and writing English.

[Note: If you feel that you fit into the eligibility criteria and have an interesting proposal to discuss, which may not be in English but has the scope of being translated/adapted, please write to us at contact@zubaanprojects.org before submitting your proposal.]

  1. You must commit to researching and writing a 10,000 words (minimum) essay or an equivalent for other content — e.g. a complete graphic story comprising at least five double-page spreads, a photo essay with 8-10 photos with detailed captions and context, a podcast series, etc. The grant allows you to develop graphic narratives, do extended interviews, or produce creative works such as audiovisual output, photo essays, etc. instead of the essay, all within a specified timeline.

[Note: Since we have a limited number of grants available, we would like to encourage applicants who can commit to submitting the first drafts of their work within 5 months after the methodology workshop.  Please apply ONLY if you feel you can fulfil these criteria so as to not deprive other deserving applicants.]

To apply

  1. Send in a grant proposal (maximum two pages) which clearly describes what you wish to do, what sources you will tap (primary and secondary), the subject of your research and a timeline.

[Note: If you need clarification on the research proposal format, please write to us at contact@zubaanprojects.org for a sample research format.]

  1. Submit a writing sample of roughly 500 words or a two-page spread of a graphic story, or an extract from previous work similar to the form of your proposed work, done by you.
  2. Grant proposals may be creative and do not need to be written in academic language.
  3. Submit your CV and any other relevant information about yourself that you think is necessary, including proof of age.
  4. Two names of referees, ideally people you have worked with.

Interested applicants can send their applications to contact@zubaanprojects.org with the subject line Application for Fragrance of Peace Grants 2022. The last date for submission of the application is 28 November 2022.

Shortlisted candidates will be informed by end-December 2022.

Shortlist and selection of grantees

A selection committee will screen all grant proposals. The committee will prepare a shortlist based on relevance to the grant’s priorities as described in this document and may wish to interview some candidates. Interviews can take place via Zoom or phone or in person. The committee will then decide and the candidate will be informed. The committee’s decision will be final.


The first draft of the selected papers is expected in five months after the methodology workshop/webinar, details of which are mentioned below. Depending on the online review and feedback meetings, papers may need to be revised after the first draft. After the feedback meetings, three more months will be provided for the final draft. The total duration of the grant is eight months.


The grant carries an amount of Rs 100,000, less applicable taxes.

Payments will be made in three instalments: 25 per cent on approval of the project and signature of the contract, 50 per cent on submission of the first draft and attendance of review meeting and the final instalment on completion of the study.

Methodology workshops/webinars

All successful candidates will be required to attend a preliminary residential methodology workshop (location to be decided) in the last week of January-early February 2023, as well as a mid-term online review where they will present a draft of their work in order to get feedback from peers and resource people. In the time remaining for the grant, candidates will be required to take the feedback on board and finalize their work.


Zubaan is an independent feminist publishing house based in New Delhi. We publish academic books, fiction, memoirs and popular nonfiction, as well as books for children and young adults under our Young Zubaan imprint, aiming always to be pioneering, cutting-edge, progressive and inclusive. For more information, log onto www.zubaanbooks.com.

The Sasakawa Peace Foundation addresses the diverse and complicated issues that human society is encountering in the 21st century. SPF and Zubaan Publishers work together in Northeast India, on projects linked with writers and literature. For more information, log onto www.spf.org.


Find a PDF version of the FAQs here.

  • What kind of research is this grant for?

The grant will fund projects exploring: community histories, experiences during the pandemic, notes on lived realities, political and social commentary, cultural production, labour and migrant relations, indigenous histories, etc., particularly historically marginalized women’s queer, feminist and oral histories, from community researchers, writers, artists, etc. These are a few examples, and this list is not comprehensive.

  • Who is this grant for?

This grant is for writers, researchers, artists, etc. from the eight northeastern states and the eastern Himalayan region. However, we strongly encourage applications from young women, queer, trans and non-binary people within the region. Preference will be given to candidates based locally and working actively within the community. This call is not open to non-Indian nationals.

  • Can I apply if I live outside of India?

You can apply if you are not a resident of India, but preference will be given to locally-based candidates working actively within the community. You will have to be available for a physical methodology workshop at the end of January 2023.

  • Is there an age limit to apply?

Yes, you must be not above 45 years old when applying.

  • What language should my submission be in?

All submissions should be in English. For multimedia content, the language can be non-English, but it will have to be accompanied by subtitles/transcripts in English provided by the applicant.

  • What kind of content can proposals be submitted for?

You can submit proposals for academic research papers, long-form journalistic essays or extended interviews, written, multimedia, visual and other creative content like podcasts, documentaries, visual essays, graphic stories, etc., thematically aligned with the grant call.

  • What should I not submit?

Masters or PhD thesis (whether completed or ongoing), proposals for fiction, poetry, etc., are not eligible as submissions.

  • Does my submission need to be final, or can it be a draft?

You should submit a proposal which clearly describes what you wish to do during the grant duration.

  • How do we submit multimedia proposals?

You can submit your multimedia proposals in the same format, with a link to a google drive housing the content.

  • How do we submit translation proposals?

If you feel that you fit into the eligibility criteria and have an interesting proposal to discuss, which may not be in English but has the scope of being translated/adapted, please write to us at contact@zubaanprojects.org before submitting your proposal.

  • What will mentorship look like?

Mentors will be individually assigned to you during the grant period. You will be in touch with your mentors over email.

  • Where will the final output be published?

All submissions made with the support of the grant will be published and disseminated online by Zubaan. They may be adapted to other formats too.

  • Who will own the copyright to the work I submit?

The materials created with the support of the grant will be co-owned by Zubaan and the applicant and will carry the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

  • Can I submit earlier work and develop it further through this grant?

If you are submitting a proposal to develop earlier published work, please focus on the differences and material development required for the current project and the importance of developing the project further.

  • Will my previously published/ screened work be eligible as a submission?


  • Can multiple submissions in various categories or formats be made?

You can make only one submission per category. For example, if you submit one research paper, you cannot submit another research paper. However, you can make a submission in another format, like a video or a graphic story. –

  • How will the grant amount be transferred?

The initial instalment of 25 per cent will be transferred through NEFT after the project’s approval, signing of the contract and attendance of the methodology workshop. The next 50 per cent will be transferred on submission of first draft and attendance of the review meeting and the final instalment on completion of the study.


Writing is For Everybody: A Mentored Workshop Final Participants Announcement



We received an overwhelming response to our call for applications for the Writing is For Everybody mentored workshop to be conducted as part of our Fragrance of Peace project. The applicants were young budding writers who explored their writing for the first time with several promising ideas. We thank you for the effort and thought you put into your applications— this made selecting the final participants challenging for us. 

However, we were lucky to have the help of a strong and informed jury, and this final selection is the result of their evaluation of the writing samples. We’re delighted to announce that the following applicants have been selected for the Workshop:


  1. Aashima Prasad
  2. Anaum Pandit
  3. Khairunnisa Aga
  4. Taskeen Nazir


  1. Daphisha Makri
  2. Kesang Thakur
  3. Rodingpuii
  4. Rumuz
  5. Shizuku
  6. Stuti Mamen

Congratulations— we look forward to your participation in the Workshop! It is curated by Ather Zia and Parismita Singh, with our speakers for fiction, Mamang Dai and Annie Zaidi and Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty, and Asiya Zahoor being speakers for non-fiction.

We thank all applicants once again and wish you the best of luck and hope you will continue engaging with Zubaan’s work and keep an eye out for future workshops and other opportunities from us.


Project Bulletin #03

Project Bulletin gives our readers a quick recap of our projects along with their latest updates. As our projects and partnerships grow, we hope these updates give our readers a sense of continuity about our projects and ensure ongoing access to the material that continues to be generated. 

No Space For Work: Political economy and challenges to women’s labour participation, safety, and autonomy is the next project that the Bulletin will recap below. 


Project background:

No Space For Work: Political economy and challenges to women’s labour participation, safety, and autonomy (or NSFW) is a national project spearheaded by Zubaan and funded by the Ford Foundation. It aims to understand how women navigate the world of paid economic work against unpaid and devalued work and how their social identities—based on caste, class, region, ethnicity, sexuality, etc.— influence these relationships. The project continues and aligns with Zubaan’s commitment to visibilising diverse perspectives by local researchers and grassroots women’s collectives. 

The informal work sectors under focus in the project are construction, sanitation, domestic work, sex work, agricultural and allied sectors, and grassroots volunteer-based work (ASHA, Anganwadi, etc.). Smaller pilot studies are expected in hospitality, private education, media, tourism, etc.

Participatory research is the core of the project. The project aims to produce documentation and audio-visual reports through partnerships with individuals such as women leaders, community researchers, and grassroots activists affiliated with various organizations across Assam, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Manipur, and others. Their work traverses issues of disability, women’s leadership, violence against women, oral history, gender justice, and more.

The output produced under NSFW will be disseminated within the communities for their use. The project, to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, focused on exploring how the experiences of work for women and the forms of violence they face at work changed during the pandemic. Zubaan also provided relief to marginalized women and communities through its networks with community resource persons.

Some of the materials created:

The outputs developed through participatory research are at the heart of NSFW. The multimedia outputs are and will be based on the needs and requirements of working women in specific project locations.

 Narratives of struggle, solidarity, and resistance have emerged through the project, which will continue building on the research capacities of working women so that they can document these stories in their languages and on their own terms.

While the narratives collected are textual, efforts are underway to adapt them to different formats (like audio stories and graphic illustrations) and disseminate them amongst the communities they emerged from through mediums like community radio, WhatsApp, and Facebook groups. 

The project also supports the publication of research papers examining the intersection of various forms of violence and the world of paid and unpaid work. In addition, two feminist economics and labour activism experts have been commissioned to write background papers exploring this. 

Future plans

The creators of the materials and Zubaan share the copyright for all materials under this project (as per the Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Creative Commons License). Through this license and sharing model, the project envisions deploying the materials for distribution and advocacy within the communities engaged and other stakeholders in the field.


Project Bulletin #02 


Project Bulletin is designed to give our readers a quick recap of our projects along with the latest updates about them. As our projects and partnerships grow, we hope these updates give our readers a sense of continuity about our projects and ensure ongoing access to the material that continues to be generated. 

The next among these is Cultures of Peace: Festival of the Northeast.


Project background:

Cultures of Peace: Festival of the Northeast was begun by Zubaan and Heinrich Böll Stiftung to focus on the Northeastern region. These efforts have created dialogue within civil societies in the seven (+ one) “sister states”, highlighting present-day concerns. While historicising the region’s relationship with “mainland” India, the Festival has foregrounded vital issues that concern the region and the rest of India to work towards peace broadly.

 Through the years, the Festival has addressed specific themes. These include Partition in the context of Northeast India and queer identities; Women’s participation in environmental activism; food cultures of the Northeast; women in music in the Northeast; and, more recently, ecology and performing arts in the Northeast. The programming also included an archive of video interviews and podcasts with women, queer, non-binary and trans people involved in activism, the arts, music, theatre, literature, as well as other material, soon to be consolidated and housed on our website as Zubaan’s Media Archive.

The project’s upcoming phase:

As the Festival moves to a new phase, it now plans to look at feminist institution-building. Movements are not limited to street-level activism but also focus on creating ongoing campaigns, collectives, and “formal” institutions. So what does this mean for movements, and how have feminist organisations dealt with questions of power, leadership, leadership transitions, and organisational growth? These are just some of the questions the Festival will seek to address collaboratively with its partners. 

Some of the materials created:

Through Her Eyes:  This musical collaboration brought together nine talented artists from Northeast India, and from different musical traditions and genres, in a rich tapestry of six different languages (Ao-Naga, Assamese, Chokri-Naga, English, Khasi, and Meiteilon). It is intended as a poetic tribute to nature and the environment featuring Tipriti Kharbangar, the Tetseo Sisters, Mangka, Moarenla Ao, Sunita Bhuyan, and Anungla Zoe Longkumer. 

Feminist Lab: The Lab was designed as a series of participative lectures on gender and ecology, focusing on stories, journeys, and achievements of feminist thinkers/collectives, activists, journalists, and others from the region. It embraces various perspectives and showcases the wealth of knowledge in the region! 

The Lab comprised eight structured interlinked workshop sessions on indigenous women’s rights and ecology, recent reforms in environmental law and their impact, outstanding conservation efforts, and varied creative documentation processes to rediscover and recover our relationship with the ecology around us. 

Video interviews: These are interviews with writers, activists, and researchers like Mamang Dai, Leki Thungon, Rituparna Neog, Ditilekha Sharma, Ayangbe Mannen, Alyen Foning, and Bano Haralu. The interviews walk us through the history of the interviewees’ work, their intellectual, political and social influences, and choices that reflect in their bodies of work. They also address the interviewees’ personal and professional/political choices, and explore how they see themselves in the context of the Northeast. The videos and other material created under the Festival will also be part of the Media Archive.



Project Bulletin #01

Project Bulletin is designed to give our readers a quick recap of our projects along with latest updates about them. As our projects and partnerships grow, we hope these updates give our readers a sense of continuity about our projects and ensure ongoing access to the material that continues to be generated. 

The first among these is Fragrance of Peace: Preserving and sharing histories and memories of Northeast India, a joint initiative of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and Zubaan Publishers Pvt. Ltd. 


Project background

The Northeast is often discussed in mainstream media in the context of security and conflict which belies its rich cultural and artistic diversity. This is similar to how the contested, postcolonial term ‘Northeast’ itself deemphasises the heterogeneity of the northeastern states.  Fragrance of Peace or FoP has sought to broaden and nuance how the Northeastern states are understood and self-represented by building linkages among writers, researchers, and artists of the Northeast, through online as well as on-ground events, webinars, workshops, book launches, and conferences. The linkages that grew out of these interactions have spurred a rich discussion about themes of identity, disability and sexuality, representation, migration, among others. With a view to encourage and create diverse forms of knowledge creation, the project has funded young writers, researchers, and journalists who are supported monetarily as well as through mentorship by experts in the field. 

Some of the material generated

FoP has consequently generated a rich output such as exhibitions like Through Her Lens that documents the photographic practices of gender and other minorities in the region as well as several anthologies by local women writers on fiction, non-fiction, translations, etc. The anthologies include  Centrepiece: New Writing and Art from Northeast India (2017), Crafting the Word: Writings from Manipur (2019)The Many That I Am: Writings from Nagaland (2019) Inheritance of Words: Writings from Arunachal Pradesh, and, more recently, Homeward: Towards A Poetics of Space. Moreover, FoP’s commitment to support knowledge and cultural production in the region through the provision of small grants lead to published E-essays, photo essays and news articles on various themes. These essays can be found here and here.

Our readers are welcome to explore some of the online events and rich exchanges that FoP was privileged to host. Links to some of these can be found below. We hope these efforts create and preserve an archive of the region which will continue to be useful for researchers, artists, writers, and anyone invested in the region, for years to come.

Links to events

  • Online book launch of The Many That I Am and Crafting the Word held by Zubaan and Assam-based feminist collective NEthing on 2 November 2020. Watch it here.


  • Love:Ability—Breaking Barriers between Desire and Disability, was a webinar held by Zubaan and NEthing in December 2020 and moderated by disability rights leaders and activists from Assam. The webinar attempted to unpack how disability and desire are often separated by lines drawn by the patriarchy, which restricts desire based on gender, bodies, ethnicities and socio-economic hierarchies. The webinar features ISL interpretations and English translations––watch it here.


  • Participatory Visual Learning Workshop: This participatory feedback-oriented workshop explored key ideas of learning in visual cultures, and opened the term ‘visual’ itself to include media such as photography, illustrations, graphics, audio-visual material etc. While the workshop was open only to selected applicants, their work can be viewed here.