CHENNAI: Can cultural erasure be an argument against displacement?”This is the question that Ek Potlee Ret Ki’s ‘Narrating Cultures Submerged’ will look at addressing. Join the audio-visual talk to look for answers and listen to stories from the banks of the Narmada in an evening marked by sharing of fading memories of the people who’ve been displaced ‘for the greater good.’
The collective met the Gond, Baiga, Bhil, Bhulala and Barela tribes in six districts in Madhya Pradesh and documented oral histories, spoke about dying food and clothing culture and heard whispers of forgotten languages through the course of their work.“When it comes to dams and displacement, their first argument, livelihood and compensation,” explained Kasturi Adhikary, fellow, Ek Potlee Ret Ki.
“We have tried to focus on the cultural aspects that are being lost in the process of displacement. Most of the documentation is made up of oral resources and memory and we speak of why it is important to preserve it. We’re also trying to put forth cultural erasure as a modern development paradigm. To show that it also counts and that stopping to celebrate festivals alone is not a loss of culture but that cultural erasure in this manner is a loss of identity.”
Through the course of the interaction, she said those on the field will present their research in addition to sharing observations and stories from their experience. “We have some rare music and cultural treasures that we gathered through the course of the fieldwork,” Kasturi said. “Many tribal languages are dying due to displacement and mass migration. There is mass forgetting that is occurring as many children don’t speak their tribal language anymore because there is no one to teach it.
They have also lost access to the river and forest and their lifestyle and familial relationships have changed. We will be discussing the sociological and cultural implications of all this in the session.” She said that they witnessed how forced relocation to new villages broke community structures and made lives difficult. The talk will take place on Thursday from 6:30 pm at the Ranga Mandira Academy in Mandaveli. For more details, contact Kasturi on 9674001458.