January 23, 2021
Inclusivity in Indian Literature
Literature wanders across locations and spaces which are often suppressed in life. The alchemical power of storytelling is evident in characters and their experiences of marginalisation, of mental health, same-sex love or physical disability. This heals and empowers us for the cathartic journey of beauty and surprise in life and literature. To celebrate and talk about Inclusivity & Indian Literature, we bring together a day-long festival of Inclusivity in Indian language literature where we hope to have conversations, uninhibited and unbiased, on the diversity of desires, emotions and human beings.
We will be discussing publishing marginalised voices, northeast India, disability, same-sex love and mental health in Indian languages.
Some of our panelists include Shanta Gokhale, Urvashi Butalia, Bnim, Ruth Vanita, Trisha Niyogi, Soni Somarajan, Mona Zote, Zeenab Ahmed and Dr Kamal Kumar Tanti.
10:00am: Introduction by Team INC & Belongg
10.15 am: Panel 1
Same-Sex Love and Desire in Colonial India
Somewhere in the 19th century, the narrative of queer identities surfaced in our literature. A place where diversity was accepted as a norm rather than an exception, queerness was looked on as a distressed woman looking for company in the absence of her husband and not as something she indulged in willingly. Same-sex love was termed as affection or friendship and yet there are voices which say this was not so. Let’s attempt to understand the genesis of this distinction and how the narrative has changed over the years with Ruth Vanita.
11:20am: Panel 2
Sunrise Upon The Northeast: Literature From The Not-So-‘Mainland’
Ever since Independence, India’s ‘Northeast’ has been separated from the mainland as the ‘other’. Let’s take time out to listen to poetry from the region and hear perspectives on how we can make it more accessible with Mona Zote, Sabreen Ahmed and Dr Kamal Kumar Tanti who will be in conversation with Ashwani Kumar,
Co-Founder of Indian Novels Collective.
12:30 pm: Panel 3
The Ocean in the Closet: Writing & Reading Between the Lines
Shanta Gokhale’s revolutionary play ‘Avinash’ or novel ‘Rita Welinkar’ normalises the need for mental health care and addresses the perception issue way before awareness about mental health featured in Indian writing. Conversation with Shefali Tripathi Mehta, author of ‘Stuck like Lint’ and ‘People on our Roof’.
Break For Lunch: 1:30pm–2:00pm
2:00pm: Panel 4
Holding Up The Microphone: A Publishing Saga
With independent presses promoting their own voices it’s time we heard them, shared them and integrated them into our reading lists. Join Urvashi Bhutalia, Rita Krocha, Ruby Hembrom and Trisha Niyogi as they talk about publishing the unheard voices.
3:10pm: Panel 5
The Way I See It: Conversation about Challenges in Writing
From Richard III to the blind king Dhritarashtra in Mahabharata, literature has made villains out of individuals with disability or relegated them to the margins. In the recent past, individuals have asked for their space back, penning their own stories or creating art with their experience in focus. Let’s speak with Bnim and Soni as they share their perspectives.
4:10pm: Closing Note