Naveen Kishore to Receive the 2021 Ottaway Award

Naveen Kishore. Photo credit: Sunandini Banerjee

‘I am a publisher. One who has learnt to ‘disrespect’ the notions of boundaries as we know them. Out of reasons that are political. As most things these days need to be. And yes cultural. Boundaries. Man created. Nation made. To me the idea of culture travels. Translates.’

The Seagull Foundation for the Arts and Seagull Books is delighted to share the news that our founder, Naveen Kishore, will receive the 2021 Words Without Borders Ottaway Award for the Promotion of International Literature.

Read the official announcement on the Words without Borders website here.

A series of workshops designed and facilitated by Angel Roy Thomas.
History for Peace has long been focused on ways of bringing the arts into education, particularly towards developing educational resources that draw upon the critical interplay between the arts and historical narratives.

With The Art of Looking, we take a step back and hope to address or grapple with questions even more fundamental: What do we recognize as art? What are our ways of seeing? What shapes how we see and interpret?Please note: This is a closed event for students and teachers. However, do watch out this space for recordings of the sessions that we will bring to you at the soonest!

Through The Art of Looking we hope to: encourage our participants to reflect on their practices of seeing and engaging with art, towards adding critical layers to their existing perceptions of art; offer students and teachers an inroad into some introductory concepts and ideas in art history to better support them in everyday interactions with art, be it neglected images in social science textbooks, in museums or around the street corner; and provide a space for our participants to freely engage with each other on reflections and questions related to art.

From our archives:

Examining Narratives on South Asian Past in Textbooks of Bangladesh

Shreya Ghosh presenting a talk at the International Conference on Teaching History, Calcutta, 30 July-1 August, 2015.

‘The phrase ‘divide and rule’ was not present in Bangladeshi textbooks in the 1980s. It was first found in textbooks that were published in 1996. These were used until very recently—till 2011. But something changed in the 1996 generation of textbooks in Bangladesh in terms of structure. The earlier two textbooks bifurcated the history of the subcontinent in the 19th and the 20th centuries. This bifurcation happened along 1947—of course.
[. . .] This structure of representing history was done away with in the 1996 textbooks. In the 1996 textbooks, the purpose of creating a particular Bengali Muslim identity was central to both pre-1947 and post-1947 history. The Bengali Muslim community seemed to be represented as the core community of Bangladesh. Which means that it did not represent the histories of several other communities, such as the tribals in Northern Bangladesh, the Bihari Muslims—a very marginalized community. The more recent textbooks of 2013 have responded to this critique in a very interesting way, to the fact that histories written earlier were not secular enough, and that more inclusive and secular histories needed to be written. They have therefore added a chapter on tribals of Bangladesh.’ 

—Examining Narratives on South Asian Past in Textbooks of Bangladesh
Read the complete transcript here

Between State Narratives and People’s Memories of 1971

In her efforts to explore the intergenerational memory of the 1947 Partition between India and Pakistan was birthed the idea of working on the 1971 Partition, particularly given the relative sense of disconnectedness and unfamiliarity with Bangladesh and the 1971 war. Little was known about the people with whom Pakistan had shared twenty-four years of history and how differentially Pakistan remembered the 1971 war vis-à-vis Bangladesh. It thus began as a work to understand her own history and unravel those nuances, which now stands as a seminal text in reading the 1971 Partition. Oral histories complemented with textbook analyses, visits to schools and travels to museums and sites memorializing 1971 juxtaposed with state narratives—this study is critical in that it brings out the implications of the 1971 Partition on everyday lives lived through that tumultuous period of extreme violence, and how that has been remembered and forgotten by the ‘three children of Partition’—India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Teaching History Without Political Borders
a talk by acclaimed Bangladesh Liberation War scholar, Afsan Chowdhury

‘Establishment history survives by repeating what has been taught before, and royal histories are replaced by their modern versions, the history of governments and politics.
The 1971 war of independence is our most important political historical event, but we focus mostly on official institutional narratives and not on interactions between society and the war. A very different kind of war is, however, caught in a narrow beam, partly because research on the experience of ordinary people is limited.
Since identities are also political tools, history becomes a complex space where contesting members of the ruling class fight over the right to define: What is history? It is not an academic space but a political one, a legal one and sometimes a violent one. But this conflict also shows how deeply significant history teaching is.
History produces evidence to assist the ruling classes and justify governance decisions. There are regional, national and local interpretations of history, and they all carry political barcodes. The challenge of teaching history today is to reduce political influences and methodological limitations.’

Read the full transcript of the talk here:

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We promise to keep bringing to you critical and engaging content through the years to come.

71 years ago on 26 November, the Indian Constitution was adopted by the Constituent Assembly, replacing the Government of India Act 1935 and imparting the nascent Indian nation constitutional supremacy. What better occasion to get your young ones introduced to this document if they haven’t been already? Here’s a wonderful reading Gulan and Jayant Kripalani recently put together for us of former Chief Justice Leila Seth’s 𝘞𝘦, 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘊𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘳𝘦𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘐𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘢 (Puffin, 2010). Listen, re-familiarize, share.