SASI & 3rd i NY present Screening & Discussion with Indian Feminist Uma Chakravarti

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Sunday, October 21, 2012
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Alwan for the Arts, 16 Beaver Street, 4th Floor (b/w Broad and Broadway, Financial District of Manhattan)
Admission: $5, Free for Alwan Members

Join the South Asian Solidarity Initiative in welcoming renowned Indian feminist historian, activist, and caste theorist UMA CHAKRAVARTI for a special screening and discussion around her latest documentary “Fragments of a Past” which looks at intergeneration legacy of political struggle of women. The film explores the individual experiences of how some women come into being in distinctive ways even though the force of ‘history’ is experienced by many others located at the same time and place as the subject/s of this film. Thus the film has as its central focus what makes for the coming into being of what we may describe as the political ‘self’, especially of women whose agency is more often than not bounded and held back by familial and social structures.

Fragments of a Past

Uma Chakravarti, English (subtitled), 54 min, 2012, India

Fragments of a Past locates the life and work of a woman political activist in her everyday existence, the relationships she lives out at home and in her work, the political affiliations she tries to hold together even as they are subjected to multiple stresses, the struggles she is part of, and later in her evening years leads her to seek to recover her grandmother’s history for a different generation of women. In doing so she turns an archive of paper into the history of a woman’s failure to be what she wanted to be, in her own lifetime. But as she goes along, in a poignant reminder of the ephemeral nature of memory, and the loss of remembrance itself, the granddaughter protagonist Mythily cannot often recall the very event that led to her own political transformation, even as they are etched in the memory of so many others who out lived the tragedy of that event, or heard about it then, and over the many decades thereafter.

So what is history then? Experienced and shaped by individuals it is not just confined to the moment of its enactment, or even to the individuals who live it out at that moment. It lives on in social and political memory, in the struggles that are launched and carried forward by other generations of women and men—each of whom have experienced the power of the moment to transform them, and who each become part of the larger collective process to carry struggles for freedom and justice forward. This film has been thought of as film on memory, as much as it is an attempt to visualise the way in which ordinary women are marked off from others only in their acts of resistance.

Producer: Public Service Broadcasting Trust

About the Director

Uma Chakravarti taught history at Miranda House, University of Delhi from 1966-1998. She has written on ancient India, the 19th century, and on contemporary issues specially on caste, gender and democratic rights. Following a life-long engagement with history in 2010 she made her first film on an unknown woman who was on the fringes of history but was politically active between 1922 and 1930. The film titled A Quiet Little Entry dwells on the inner lives of women and the fragility of their personal archives, and the impossibility of retrieving these lives because of the way we have been taught to look at history. Fragments of a Past carries these themes forward through the life of the granddaughter of our earlier protagonist who lives a full political existence but has no memory of that existence because of what she herself calls a memory loss.

About the Co-Presenters

SOUTH ASIA SOLIDARITY INITIATIVE (SASI) is an organization based the United States that is in solidarity with progressive social movements and democratic politics in South Asia. We believe in the shared history and common struggles of South Asia and break from the confines of nation-states to carry forward an alternative vision for South Asia and its peoples.

SASI is opposed to state repression, majoritarian politics, reactionary non-state forces, dispossession of communities and oppression of people along the lines of caste, gender, class, region, race, ethnicity, sexuality and religion. We stand with those in South Asia who dissent, and we will amplify the voices of those who are silenced.

SASI engages in the US public sphere to challenge the US establishment wherever it reinforces repressive politics in South Asia. We aim to both engender a progressive dialogue and confront reactionary forces within our diasporic communities. SASI builds on decades of South Asian progressive politics of solidarity within the United States for peace and reconciliation, inter-ethnic and inter-religious co-existence as well as social and economic justice in South Asia.

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3rdi NY Film Programming is made possible in part with public funds from the Fund for Creative Communities, supported by New York State Council on the Arts, and the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, both in partnership with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Alwan for the Arts hosts our monthly screenings series. We are thankful to the SINGH Foundation for acting as our fiscal sponsor.

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