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Postcolonial Studies Centre welcomes visit from feminist Dalit author Kalyani Thakur

The Centre launched their new ‘Changing Wor(l)ds’ Network by welcoming the author to talk about Dalit activism and literature

Kalyani and Sipra in conversation
L-R: Translator Sipra Mukherjee, Dalit author Kalyani Thakur

The Postcolonial Studies Centre launched their new ‘Changing Wor(l)ds’ Network this month with an event that explored Dalit literature. The network will bring together industry professionals, activists and scholars to enhance the availability of radical literature and respond to changes in the literary marketplace. The network are not limited to one particular marginalised group, but plan to explore areas where the need for representation is greatest.

The Centre has been an essential feature of NTU research for eighteen years, seeking to advance contemporary debates in postcolonial writing, culture and theory. This research is cross-disciplinary, spanning all areas of the School of Arts and Humanities. This particular event stems from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded research network ‘Writing, Analysing and Translating Dalit Literature’, which was co-ordinated by lecturer Dr Nicole Thiara and Dr Judith Mirahi-Barak, lecturer in English at Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier, France.

Guests at the network launch event included publishers, writers and translators as well as cultural activists from organisations such as UNESCO City of Literature, Nottingham Black Archive and Poets Against Racism. The day primarily consisted of panels, where partners discussed the publishing industry and its relationship to social issues, set in the context of their own work or research. There were plenty of chances for guests to network and discuss upcoming projects or opportunities for collaboration, setting the scene for some interesting work in the future.

Kalyani discussing her work at Nottingham Contemporary
Kalyani (Right), discussing translation with guests at the Nottingham Contemporary 'Translating Activism' workshop

Special guest for the day, Kalyani Thakur, held a panel alongside professional translator Sipra Mukherjee to discuss her personal experiences of activism and literature. Kalyani is a feminist Dalit poet writer from West Bengal who has written extensively about the humiliation faced by her community, once referred to in India as the ‘Untouchables.’ She has published four books of poetry in Bengali, a collection of short stories, a collection of essays and a poetry pamphlet, of which an English translation is available.

Kalyani discussed ‘Caste discrimination’, particularly in India, and highlighted the need for research into this area as well as more widely recognised fields of cultural politics and community representation. She also touched on how Dalit discrimination can be found in the UK and discussed how the experiences of prejudice might differ. She gave a special reading of her work in Nottingham Trent University’s Boots library, both in Bengali and in English.

A public event was also held in relation to the Network, in collaboration with Nottingham Contemporary. Participants from cultural activism organisations, as well as writers from the public, reworked Kalyani’s poetry using the bridge method of translation. The workshop aimed to help guests form a deeper understanding of the problems faced by Dalits and to explore how translation can unlock deeper meanings.

You can read more about the Postcolonial Studies Centre here:

Published on 3 May 2018
  • Category: Culture; School of Arts and Humanities