University of Washington, Seattle – Tuesday, October 10th – 11:00 AM

Theme: Boundaries and Belongings

October 10, 2017, University of Washington, Seattle Campus
11:00 am -9:00 pm, 2 Panels, 2 Screenings

Panel 1 (11:00- 1:00PM): Cultural Homogenization and Dissent in South Asia
Panel 2 (2:00- 4:00PM): Decolonizing Sexuality in South Asia
Program 3 (4:00- 6:00 PM): Film screening and Roundtable Discussion
Program 4, Final Program (7:00- 9:00 PM): Film Screening

Despite the shared cultural, political and historical legacies, the eight nation-tsates of South Asia—Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives—stand divided along national and intra-national borders by means of conflicts, wars, and brutalizations of caste, ethnic, religious, and gendered bodies. And yet, alternative imaginaries of South Asia by means of dialogue and dissent through art (film, music, literature) demonstrate the ways in which we all belong despite the borders that separate us from each other.


Panel 1 (11:00- 1:00PM)

Cultural Homogenization and Dissent in South Asia

How do various parts of the South Asian entertainment industry (including film, TV, writing, popular music and more) foster diverse cultural production, as well as resist monolithic forces of universalism, from Hollywood to Bollywood and beyond? With the realization that sometimes these forms of cultural production are not at all in reference to predominant cultural paradigms, and that sometimes reference to overarching paradigms facilitates this resistance, the panel will discuss how various social groups in South Asia, including non-Hindi speaking populations in India, and diverse groups in other South Asian countries, navigate the connections and contradictions of being enmeshed in global, regional and local cultural systems, and how their work reinforces particularity, or complicates ways in which these cultural groups address the relationship with these larger cultural structures.

Panelists include

  • Nalini Iyer (Moderator)  – Nalini Iyer is a Professor of English at Seattle University where she teaches postcolonial literatures. Her publications include the following:Other Tongues: Rethinking the Language Debates in India (co-edited with Bonnie Zare, Rodopi 2009); Roots and Reflections: South Asians in the Pacific Northwest (co-authored with Amy Bhatt, University of Washington Press 2013); and Revisiting India’s Partition: New Essays in Memory, Culture, and Politics (co-edited with Amritjit Singh and Rahul K. Gairola, Lexington 2016).

  • Sonora Jha – Dr. Sonora Jha is a Professor of journalism at Seattle University. She is the author of the novel Foreign, and her research focuses on the intersections of the press, politics, and the Internet. She is a former journalist with The Times of India. Her co-edited book titled “New Feminisms in South Asian Social Media, Film and Literature” comes out this Fall from Routledge. Dr. Jha is the Prose Writer in Residence at Hugo House and is Board President of Hedgebrook.

  • S. Charusheela – Charusheela is a Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, Bothell.  Her published work is on economic subjectivity, gender, development, identity, and postcoloniality/globalization. Charu edited the journal Rethinking Marxism from 2009 to 2013 and has served on the board of the Cultural Studies Association (CSA-US) and the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE).  She is currently working on alternate models of cross-national educational exchange with Anup Dhar at Ambedkar University in New Delhi.

  • Divya McMillin, Professor of Global Media Studies, UW Tacoma

  • Filmmaker Subarna Thapa (Nepal)

  • Filmmaker Akshay Singh(Pinky Beauty Parlor)

Panel 2 (2:00- 4:00PM)

Decolonizing Sexuality in South Asia

This panel will examine a range of issues around the question of sexual politics in South Asia. It will explore how a growing expression of dissent against the culture of everyday sexual violence–anti-rape protests in India, Occupy Baluwatar in Nepal, #qandeelbaloch agitation in Pakistan, and the Support for Romana Monzur campaign in Bangladesh–led by the region’s youth has shifted its focus from the discourse of protectionism to that of unconditional freedom at home and in public spaces. The panel will discuss the ways in which these movements for decolonizing the body and sexuality are linked to a global discourse of rights and the extent to which they are facilitated by the Internet and social media. Panel members will also investigate whether these anti-misogynistic agitations are providing the idiom, language, and form of protest, causing a ripple effect for other forms of gender, caste, religion, region, and class-based struggles such as the CyberGay, #DalitWomenFight, and #NotInMyName campaigns in India, the #SecularPakistan and Reclaim our Mosques movements in Pakistan, or the Secular Rescue campaign in Bangladesh.

Central to these social movements is the representational power of cinema, in particular that promoted by a wide range of cinemas such as:

  • New cinemas called multiplex or hatke cinema in India that looks at gender through the lens of sexual desire and freedom, challenging traditional notions of sexual disciplining and monitoring (e.g. Masaan, Parched, Anarakali of Aarah, Queen, and Pink)

  • Activist documentary film movement in Pakistan that Rahat Imran (2016) refers to as the “cinema of accountability” dealing with gendered, sexual, ethnic, and sectarian identities (e.g. Who Will Cast the First Stone, For a Place Under the Heaves, A Girl in the River, Among the Believers, Qandeel Baloch: The Life, Death, and Impact of a Working-Class Hero)

  • New hashtag cinema that troubles the politics of representation (e.g. #DalitWomenFight)

The purpose of this symposium is to bridge the gap between the academia, cinema and the wider community by looking at the intersection between the state, society, social movements, and film. As scholars and filmmakers, panelists will deliberate among each other and with members of the general public on the question of how not only do new cinemas of South Asia capture the pulse of the nation, but also take the conversation forward through representing radically new discourses.

Panelists include

  • Sunila Kale (Moderator) –Sunila S. Kale is Associate Professor in the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, and Chair and Director of South Asia Studies. Her teaching and research focus on Indian politics and development.

  • Alka Kurian – Alka Kurian is a Senior Lecturer at the school of Interdisciplinary Arts, University of Washington Bothell and an Affiliate at the south Asia Center, University of Washington Seattle. She is the author of Narrative of Gendered Dissent: South Asian Cinemas (Routledge) and her co-edited book New Feminisms in South Asian Social Media, Film and Literature (Routledge) is forthcoming in Fall 2017. She is a formor co- editor of the peer-reviewed journal Studies in South Asian Film and Media and is a board president of Tasveer: A South Asian film and Art Non-Profit.

  • Ali Mian – Ali Altaf Mian is assistant professor of Islamic studies in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies. His research interests include: Islam in South Asia, Islamic law and ethics, gender and sexuality, Sufism and comparative mysticism, and theory and method in the study of religion. Currently, he is working on two manuscripts:Muslims in South Asia(contracted with Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming in 2019) and Surviving Modernity: Ashraf ‘Ali Thanvi (1863-1943) and the Politics of Muslim Orthodoxy in Colonial India.

  • Shahnaz Khan (Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada) – Shahnaz Khan is a Prof. Emerita of Global Studies and Women & Gender Studies at Wilfird Laurier University, Ontario, Canada. She is the author of Muslim Women: Crafting a North American Identity, and ZinaTransnational feminism and the moral regulation of Pakistani Women. She has published extensively on gender, Islam, Hindi cinema, and transgender issues in Pakistan.

  • Poulomi Basu –Poulomi Basu is an award winning storyteller, artist and activist. She was raised by her mother in Calcutta, India and found early inspiration in the city’s rich cinematic history. Poulomi’s work has become known for documenting the role of women in isolated communities and conflict zones and more generally for advocating for the rights of women. Poulomi was featured alongside Hilary Clinton as one of the Amazing women from around the world giving their best advice by Refinery29. She is co-founder and director of Just Another Photo Festival, a festival that democratizes photography by taking photography to the people and forging new audiences.

  • Filmmaker Amy Benson (The Eldest Son, Nepal -Amy Benson and her husband, Scott Squire, have been filming one Nepali family, The Darnals, since 2008. Their first feature, Drawing the Tiger, about the experience of their daughter after she moves to Kathmandu for school, screened at Tasveer in 2015. Their second film in this series, The Eldest Son, follows their son’s journey as migrant laborer in Malaysia. The Eldest Son premieres at Tasveer on October 14.

  • Cricket Keating, UW (Sri Lanka)

Program 3 (4:00- 6:00PM)

Film screening and Roundtable Discussion


  • Nepal Earthquake: Heroes, Survivors, and Miracles

  • 107.2Mhz

More than two years after the devastating earthquake in Nepal, the panelists for this session come together to reflect on their post earthquake relief and reconstruction efforts. Filmmaker Ganesh Panday opens the discussion with an overview of the movie Nepal Earthquake: Heroes, Survivors, and Miracles (Bhagyale Bachekaharu). Seattle community members including UW students then share their experience of assisting post-earthquake relief and reconstruction efforts in Nepal. The floor will be open following this for the audience to ask questions, and share their thoughts. This roundtable discussion will highlight how belonging is emboldened across geographic borders as we celebrate the heroes, survivors, and miracles. It will recognize the collaborative community engagement in Nepal and Seattle.

Organizer/ Moderator

Pasang Yangjee Sherpa, NSI co-director, to present the film and lead post-film Q&A


  • Shree Ram Dahal, Advisor, Nepal Seattle Society

  • Rubee Dev, President, UW Nepalese Students Association

  • Girmi Sherpa, President, NW Sherpa Association

Program 4, Final Program (7:00- 9:00 pm)

Film Screening


Maya’s Husk Husband (47min): Women’s Rights, Health, Reproductive Justice,

The Knot (10min: Seniors, Aging, Love, Relationships)