A joint initiative of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and Zubaan Publishers Pvt. Ltd.



Since 2016, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF) and Zubaan Publishers Pvt. Ltd. (the sister organization of Zubaan Trust) have organised Fragrance of Peace, an extensive cultural and literary programme in India’s Northeast. Fragrance of Peace aims to bring together writers, artists, journalists from the Northeast to more places in ‘mainland’ India and support conversations between writers within the region. 

Fragrance of Peace has sparked off conversations with different groups of local researchers, artists and writers, expanding the programme to focus on issues and topics as diverse as women’s memories to queer nationalism. With each year, this writing initiative has delved deeper into identifying key issues of representation, identity, migration, labour, statehood movements — against a backdrop of conflict resolution and peace building — building linkages around them and developing activities to further these engagements. 

In the past, this was done through the organization of on-ground events in different locations all across the country, focusing in different states of the Northeast. However with the COVID-19 pandemic making irrevocable changes to the ways physical interactions can take place, for the health and safety of our team and collaborators, programming for Fragrance of Peace was completely shifted to the digital medium from April 2020 onwards. With the second wave of COVID-19, we are prioritizing the safety of our team, partners, collectives and continuing with the online and distanced mode of programming.



  1. Strengthening networks and building partnerships 
  • Encouraging cross-cultural exchange by bringing together writers, researchers and artists from the Northeast to join multiple engagements (online and physical), such as webinars, literature festivals and photo exhibitions and other related events.
  • Publishing books by writers from the Northeast that focus on women’s writings, translations, queer and marginalized writings, etc.  and making them available in multiple formats. 


    2. Promoting young writers and researchers from Northeast India

  • The project supports young writers and researchers from Northeast India through the provision of small funds annually. Centred around new themes each year, these funds provide researchers and writers with the opportunity to conduct research in and around their communities, document histories and create an archive of the region.
  • Yearly methodology workshops, facilitated by experts in the field, are also held to provide researchers with the support they require to conduct their studies.


   3. Responding to on-ground developments in the region and creating channels of support 

  • In direct response to the pandemic and lockdown, its gendered impact on the world of waged work, and the responses of the state, two new funds were created in 2020. The Zubaan-SPF Grant for Journalists from the Northeast supported early to mid-career journalists and encouraged them to document the impact the pandemic had on their respective states, especially in light of an overall lack of mainstream media coverage on these themes. 
  • The Zubaan-SPF Grant for Women’s Collectives was provided to community researchers from partner organisations that were conducting pandemic relief work in their respective regions. This grant supports the documentation of women’s experiences of the pandemic at the grassroots level— focusing on healthcare, access to sanitation, resources, education, disability rights, etc.

    Photographic submission by Women’s Leadership Training Centre (WLTC) community researcher Mina Sutradhar from the Chirang district in Assam. The photograph was received under Through Her Lens: Reframing the Domestic.


     4. Encouraging diverse forms of knowledge production

  •  A lot of programming that takes place under the Fragrance of Peace initiative aims to support and encourage research in different forms, be it through the written word, or visual mediums. We are working on a programme titled Through Her Lens which aims to facilitate documentations of memories of women and gender minorities in the region.

    Photograph by Sophia Lisam during the unlocking phase of the pandemic in Manipur in 2020. These form a part of Through Her Lens:The Space Without.


All activities align with and aim to fulfill the aims and objectives the initiative set out to achieve.

  • Publication of Books
The physical and the e-book version of these books can be purchased from the Zubaan Books website.

Fragrance of Peace encourages the publishing of books by women and marginalised identities from the region. So far, we have commissioned several anthologies by local women writers on fiction, non-fiction, translations, etc. – 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) , and The Inheritance of Words: Writings from Arunachal Pradesh. Upcoming books for the year of 2021 are a collection of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, illustrations contextualizing the idea of home from writers belonging to different Northeast states and contiguous regions, an anthology of women’s writing from Mizoram and a visual research book on documenting memories and histories in Northeast India.



  • Online Events

While we were unable to hold on-ground events from March 2020 onwards due to the ongoing public health crisis, the digital medium was used to conduct various events that brought together writers, researchers, artists, illustrators and photographers in conversation with each other, and also to carve out spaces of its own that could create networks between different groups of people and serve as lasting archives of information.


    • Book Launch of The Many That I Am and Crafting the Word: While a March 2020 launch of these titles was cancelled due to the pandemic. However, Zubaan and Assam-based feminist collective NEthing collaborated to conduct an online book launch of the same on 2 November 2020. Watch it here.

      Event poster for online discussion of ‘The Many That I Am: Writings From Nagaland’ and ‘Crafting the Word: Writings From Manipur’.
    • Love:Ability––Breaking Barriers between Desire and Disability: Disability and desire are often separated by lines drawn by the patriarchy, which restricts desire based on gender, bodies, ethnicities and socio-economic hierarchies. In December 2020, Zubaan and NEthing collaborated to host a webinar to discuss this, moderated by disability rights leaders and activists from Assam.  The webinar features ISL interpretations and English translations––watch it here.

      Event poster for Love:Ability––Breaking Barriers between Desire and Disability.
    • Participatory Visual Learning: 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.

      Poster inviting applications for the Participatory Visual Learning Workshop.


  • Through Her Lens

Supported by Fragrance of Peace, Through Her Lens started out as an on-ground exhibition in Namchi, Sikkim to bring attention to the photographic practices of women and other marginalised communities in the eight Northeast Indian states and Darjeeling Hills, and create a safe space for the production and representation of their works. 

However, during the pandemic, it shifted online and expanded in theme and scope. For more details and to view the exhibition(s), visit the THL website here.

Photo from the first Through Her Lens exhibition held in Namchi, Sikkim in February 2020.


As mentioned above, this initiative supports knowledge and cultural production in the region through the provision of small funds annually. Read the published E-essays of grantees from previous and current research cohorts here.

In the 2020-21 grant cycle, along with announcing the annual grant for young researchers from the Northeast, Zubaan also introduced the Zubaan-Sasakawa Peace Foundation Grants for Journalists from the Northeast. To read their  articles/view their photo essays on these various themes that have been published on various online portals and written with the support of the grant, click here.

Poster for the release and dissemination of the e-essays papers on Zubaan’s social media handles in 2020-21.