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Video: Crowdsourcing Memories of the 1947 Partition of British India

“There is nothing as epochal as the cataclysmic event that was visited upon the people of South Asia when decolonization occurred and the British withdrew during the dismantling of the British empire. That forced event — that trauma — continues to shape the lives of two billion of the world’s seven billion people today,” says Professor Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at the Harvard Business School and Director of the Mittal Institute. Despite the abundant historical and political scholarship on the Partition of British India in 1947, there are still gaps in our understanding of the event — and the Mittal Institute’s research team set out to change that.

An Artist’s Journey from Nepal to Cambridge, and Back

“The southern border of Nepal, along India, was created 150 years ago by external parties,” says Sagar Chhetri, a visual artist from Nepal and a former Visiting Artist Fellow at the Mittal Institute. When that border was created, communities were cut in two. “[In Nepal], the ruling caste tried to unite all the peoples of the country to create one single Nepali identity. But in the populous open border region, Nepalis and Indians share marital ties, cultures, languages, and histories. With the promise of federalism during the decade-long civil war in Nepal came stronger rhetoric and ideology based on ethnic identity,” he said.

Suhasini Kejriwal: Transforming India’s Urban Landscape Through Art

Suhasini Kejriwal, a mixed media artist from India, joined the Mittal Institute earlier this Spring in our latest group of Visiting Artist Fellows. Through photography, paintings, embroidery, and more, Suhasini’s practice acts as witness to the lived experiences of those whom she observes, living out their lives in the busy streets of India’s urban landscapes.

Numair Abbasi: Pop Culture, Anecdotes, and Gender Identity

Numair Abbasi, a mixed media artist from Pakistan, recently joined the Mittal Institute in the latest group of Visiting Artist Fellows. Numair’s practice draws on popular culture, anecdotes, and colloquialisms to stage personal and social narratives in attempts to challenge the politics behind how gender is socially constructed and performed.

Nivedita Saksena: Digitizing India’s Health Data Exchange

The India Digital Health Network (IDHN) is a research and policy collaborative focused on the development of a patient-centric and provider-friendly health data exchange ecosystem in India. Recently, the IDHN team submitted comments to a Joint Committee of the India Parliament on the 2019 Personal Data Protection Bill, which aims to protect the personal data of individuals throughout India. To learn more, we spoke with Nivedita Saksena about her role as the first IDHN Policy Fellow and the accomplishments, goals, and future of IDHN in India.

Abdul Razaque Channa: Gender Representation in Pakistan’s Primary School Textbooks

How does Pakistan’s educational system influence the creation and construction of gender in society? In an upcoming talk, Gender Representation in Primary School Textbooks in Pakistan, the Mittal Institute’s Syed Babar Ali Fellow, Dr. Abdul Razaque Channa, will discuss his research on the textbooks that are taught to students between grades 1 and 5 throughout the public-school system of Sindh province. In his research, Channa is working to uncover how these textbooks contribute to the construction, inculcation, and perpetuation of gender roles in Pakistan.

Book Workshop Builds Opportunity and Community for Junior Scholars

Recently, the Mittal Institute hosted a book workshop with Dr. Mariam Chughtai, Babar Ali Fellow at the Mittal Institute and Associate Dean and Assistant Professor at the LUMS School of Education in Lahore, Pakistan, to curate feedback on her manuscript currently in progress. In a book workshop, a professor hosts a junior scholar and invites other senior scholars from the relevant field to come together and provide feedback on the junior scholar’s developing book manuscript.

Naveen Bharathi: Fractal Urbanization and Residential Segregation in Liberalizing India

Each year, the Mittal Institute welcomes a new Raghunathan Family Fellow to support recent PhDs whose research lies in the humanities and social sciences related to South Asia. Naveen Bharathi, the Mittal Institute’s 2019-20 Raghunathan Family Fellow, comes to Harvard with a breadth of experience as an architect, planner, and researcher of political sociology and political economy of identity in India. Most particularly, his research explores the relationship between ethnic diversity and development in contemporary urban India.

Identity and Politics in South Asia, Brought to Life Through Art

This week, the Visiting Artist Fellows’ Fall 2019 exhibit, Exploring Identity Through a Contemporary South Asian Lens, opened at the Mittal Institute. Available for viewing through November 26, photographer Sagar Chhetri and sculptor Sakshi Gupta unveiled their artistic interpretations of life, time, and the human condition to a rapt audience. The 8-week Visiting Artist research program provides a vital platform for an exchange of perspectives and knowledge, linking Cambridge and South Asia through shared stories and new understandings and providing artists from South Asia the opportunity to use Harvard’s resources to perform research that will inform their art practice.