Cultures of Peace: Festival of the Northeast is a project collaboratively begun by Zubaan and Heinrich Böll Stiftung/Heinrich Boell Foundation. Through diverse forms of cultural production—writing, music, film, theatre, media, art and more—this ever-evolving ‘festival’ aims to create spaces for dialogue within civil societies in the seven (+ one) ‘sister states’ (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura + Sikkim), highlighting present-day concerns and issues while historicising the region’s relationship with ‘mainland’ India at the same time.

Through writing, music, film, theatre, media, photography, art and more, the festival has brought together academics and activists, writers and filmmakers, civil society actors and others, in a series of dialogues and celebrations that serve to showcase the northeastern states and bring into public discourse the many key issues that concern both the region and the rest of India, to broadly work towards peace.

 

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

 

Cultures of Peace aims to diversify mainstream conversation and knowledge production about the Northeast region of India by bringing together regionally relevant literature, art, photography, food, dance, etc., and making connections between cultures and peoples through these alternative avenues. Through highlighting cultural production, we also aim to expand the context in which the Northeast is spoken of, which is often limited to that of a region of conflict.

 

PROJECT ACTIVITIES

 

From November to December 2016, festival events were held in Guwahati and New Delhi. A two-day programme in Guwahati was hosted in collaboration with TISS-Guwahati and the North East Writers’ Forum. The first day comprised of discussions and performances, with contributions from Thingnam Anjulika and Lapdiang Syiem, concluding with a food festival hosted by students of the Peace and Conflict Studies programme. The second day showcased speakers from literary contexts of other states. In Delhi, the event was held at Bikaner House and had an audience of over one hundred through the whole day, with speakers including Easterine Kire, Bobo Khuraijam, etc.

2017 saw three locations for Cultures of Peace events: Delhi, Guwahati and Shillong. In Guwahati, a lecture with historian V Geetha and trans activist A Revathi was hosted in collaboration with TISS-Guwahati in October 2017. Shortly after, a day of panel discussions was held in Shillong, touching on themes of Partition in the context of Northeast India, queer identities and more. In New Delhi, we hosted panel discussions in partnership with the gender and women development cells of various colleges in Delhi University, including St Stephen’s College. The festival finale were the launches of the anthology Centrepiece: New Writing and Art from North East India, edited by Parismita Singh, hosted at a restaurant in New Delhi and at Ashoka University.

In 2018, festival events were held in Dimapur, New Delhi and Ahmedabad. In November, the first event was held at Tetso College and at Hotel Acacia in Dimapur. This two-day event saw speakers like Kalpana Sharma, Yengkhom Jilangamba, Tongam Rina and Dolly Kikon among others. In New Delhi, a panel on women’s contributions to cultural labour hosted speakers like Alana Golmei, Chinmayi Sarma and Navsharan Singh. In late November, we partnered with Natarani Amphitheatre of Ahmedabad, where dance performances by Babina Chabungbam and Rulee Phukan, and theatre performances by Lapdiang Syiem and Rosemary Kikon were hosted. 

For the year 2019, Cultures of Peace was held in Imphal, on 11th and 12th October 2019. The theme was ‘Highlighting Women’s Participation in Environmental Activism’, and included sessions on water (dam projects, river pollution, water conservation et al.), sessions on land (agriculture, land ownership, mining et al.), sessions on forests (wildlife conservation, deforestation, indigenous knowledge et al.). Film screenings on ecological concerns, directed by indigenous women, were also organised, followed by discussions.

The second event was held in Kohima in December 2019. This included lectures and participative sessions, with speakers from Naga and other neighbouring communities, mostly women, and include contributions from audience / participants. Due to the passing of the Naga peace accord and the citizenship amendment laws, the event had to be postponed (initially) and was eventually held in a much reduced capacity, keeping in mind travel and safety concerns.

 

Media Coverage of some of the events:

 

2011

2013

2015

2016

2018

2019

 

VIDEOS:

Cultures of Peace- Zubaan’s Annual Festival, 9 January 2016

 

 

ANI News: Writers from Northeast come together at ‘Culture of Peace’ festival, December 2016

 

To read more of our projects in the Northeast, please click here.