Virtual Panel Discussion: Activism and Art in India

December 8, 2020

India is an incredibly diverse country — religiously, linguistically, geographically, socially, and politically. The arts offer insight into all aspects of a culture, and artists encourage us to see things both as they are and how they could be. Join this panel of artists and scholars to discuss the use of various visual and performance arts to critique and lay bare some of the flashpoints in Indian politics, culture, and society.

This program has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Aparna Polavarapu is a tenured associate professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law. She has significant scholarly expertise in the field of legal pluralism, with a particular research focus on non-state justice systems and how they work together with formal, state-centered systems. As the founder and executive director of the South Carolina Restorative Justice Initiative, Polavarapu oversees the development of restorative justice education and programming and works with organizations seeking to develop and implement their own restorative practices.

Payal P. Shah, Ph.D. is an associate professor in educational studies at the University of South Carolina. Her research focuses on gender, education, and international development, with expertise in South Asia. She uses participatory, ethnographic, and arts-based methods to investigate the education-dis/empowerment link from a feminist perspective.

Ather Zia is a political anthropologist, poet, short fiction writer, and columnist. Associate professor at the University of Northern Colorado Greeley, Zia is the author of Resisting Disappearances: Military Occupation and Women’s Activism in Kashmir, founder and editor of Kashmir Lit, and co-founder of the Critical Kashmir Studies Collective.

Dr. Sailaja Krishnamurti is an associate professor of religious studies at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax. Her research takes a critical race feminist approach to questions of religion, representation, and identity in the South Asian diaspora and in transnational media cultures. Krishnamurti is also a founding member of the Intersectional Feminist Hindu Studies Collective.

Ahsun Zafar is the founder of the popular Instagram account @BrownHistory. He has a background in electrical engineering and is based in Canada.

Reena uses her paintings to bring awareness to social injustices and inequalities while also pursuing activism work with her graphic design and digital interactive media arts works. She has worked with organizations that campaign to raise money and cover attorney fees for those who are quarantined in abusive and unsafe living situations and has helped those looking for services overcome online language barriers.