The Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI), organized the ninth lecture of the Distinguished Lecture Series,“Memoirs from the Margins”by Prof. Ania Loomba, Catherine Bryson Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania,on Friday, 8thOctober, 2021, 7:30-8:30 PM ISTon Zoom. Supported by the Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC), Ministry of Education, Government of India, the talk was organized as part of the ongoing academic collaboration with the Department of English and American Studies, University of Würzburg, Germany, and promises to be one in a line of successively pertinent lectures.
The talk was conducted by Ms. Shraddha A. Singh, Ms. Zahra Rizvi, and Ms. Aparna Pathak, Ph.D. scholars, Department of English, JMI, and was enthusiastically attended by a large crowd of scholars, students, and faculty from all over the world and across various time-zones.Prof. Simi Malhotra, H.o.D., Department of English, JMI, Indian PI, delivered the welcome address, greeting the invited speaker, faculty, scholars, and students.
She spoke about the talk as part of the ongoing collaborative project between the Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia and the Department of English and American Studies, University of Würzburg, on “New Terrains of Consciousness: Globalization, Sensory Environments and Local Cultures of Knowledge”, supported by the Ministry of Education’s initiative SPARC, “Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration” which aims to facilitate academic and research collaboration between higher education institutes in India and abroad.
She, then, introduced the esteemed speaker, Prof. Ania Loomba, who was greeted by a round of applause. In her lecture, Prof. Ania Loomba presents autobiographies as a space where the personal meets the political. She particularly talked about autobiographies of the marginalised sections such as black women, Dalit, Hijra, and Latin American authors. Her in-depth analysis focused majorly on memoirs of Dalit women that reflected upon anti-caste and feminist politics. She discussed in detail the memoirs of Ushabai Dange and Parbatibai Bhore.
The autobiographies of both these authors shed light upon desires as well as fears in the social institutions such as marriage and motherhood. Their feminist struggles highlight important issues such as the right to dissent, better wages, and the right to education and work for the women of marginalised communities. She also highlighted Hijra memoirs as important writings that discuss transgender rights, sexual health, and normative conceptions of class, ideology, and location.
She further discussed Malika Shaikh’s work I Want to Destroy Myself: A Memoir as a key text that bridges the chasm between the Left and the Dalit movement. Similarly, she also talked about R. B. More’s autobiography discussing how the divisions between Left and anti-caste movements are repeatedly played out. She concluded her talk by encouraging the listeners to contemplate upon the political future of these autobiographies of marginalised peoples.
This was followed by an engaging, in-depth Q/A session coordinated by Ms.Shraddha A. Singh, Ph.D. Scholar, Department of English, JMI. The event was brought to an end with a Vote of Thanks by Ms.Aparna Pathak. To ensure a wide range of viewership and participation, the event was also live streamed on YouTube, and was attended by over a hundred participants.