SOAS University of London

SOAS Library Exhibition ‘Narratives of Refugee Memories’ and SSAI Commemorative Conference

9 June 2022

SOAS’s Wolfson Gallery located inside the library is currently hosting an exhibition on ‘Narratives of Refugee Memories’ curated by Dr Sanjukta Ghosh (SOAS South Asia Institute). ‘Unlocking SOAS Collections’, the exhibits provide the creative lens to look again at the archives of Partition in 1947 and the post Partition settlement history of displaced people of South Asia and beyond.

Partition transcripts from India: A People Partitioned by the former BBC journalist and historian Andrew L. Whitehead, papers of NGOs and campaigns such as War on Want, news reports, correspondences from local organisations and audio-visual materials held in SOAS Library are displayed. The effects of Partition in this polyphonic narrative are, however, far-reaching and follow uncharted routes as family connections appear scattered. South Asia, in this sense, is not just restricted by its territories, as the post-colonial diasporic subject shares a common history of the colonial past. The exhibition is enriched with original prints of diasporic artists such as Amarjeet Nandhra’s Displacement and Kamal Koria’s selection from the Journey series and Calamity. The British Ugandan Asian exodus at 50 years ties with those who have the experience of dual migration and lineages from South Asia, Africa to the UK. Focusing on photojournalism that ignited social and political campaigns worldwide, a section is devoted to the photographs of the late Mohamed Amin -- frontline cameraman extraordinaire (The Mohamed Amin Foundation, Kenya). Collections from the British Ugandan Asians at 50 project (The India Overseas Trust), newspaper prints from Muktokotha archive at Moulvibazar (Bangladesh), sit alongside other personal collections -- memorable ‘everyday’ artefacts that people carry as ‘belonging’ while leaving their old lives behind.

Nazes Afroz, the former Executive Editor for the South and Central Asia region of the BBC World Service has curated the West Wall exhibition Uncertain Landscape: refugee memories of Kolkata which features contrasting photographs of the past and transformations in the lives of individuals and families.

Calamity (The Chaos Within) by Kamal Koria

SSAI Commemorative Conference: Narratives of Refugee Memories and Resettlements

The long shadow of South Asian displacement of millions across borders merges with the timeline of the development of each newly born nation-state – Pakistan, the Republic of India (celebrating 75 years of Independence), and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh (51 years of Independence). 

This commemorative conference on 20 June at the Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre (3-8pm) engages with new conversations in the field of refugee memories spanning these nation-states. Transnational connections are highlighted among diasporic communities with an exclusive screening of Children of Partition – an oral history of Pothoharis; the British Ugandan Asians at 50 chaired by Alan J. Critchley JP (BUA50 Chair) for a media-led panel by the renowned war photojournalist Bhasker Solanki who has filmed in over 100 countries and BUA50 Producer, Paresh Solanki among various speakers. Refugee settlements as far as Canada emerge in the keynote speech by Professor Michael J Molloy (Carleton University, Ontario) who was second in command at the Kampala office during the time of the expulsion.

Register to attend.