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The Color Curtain and the Promise of Bandung with Shabbir Hussain Mustafa, Suman Gopinath & Grant Watson, hosted by Vera Mey

Event28 October 2021, 09:00online

The Asian-African Conference held in 1955 in the city of Bandung, Indonesia, can be considered a catalyst of already existing political and cultural affiliations. Stimulated by the Bandung moment, this Asian-African alliance had an anti-imperialist, anti-colonial, and anti-racist rationale. Reanimating the so-called ‘third-way’ political imagination carried by the Bandung spirit, this collective research is driven by a poetics of correspondence, addressing cultural traditions while at the same time revealing translational experiences across Asia, Africa, and their diasporas.

Live roundtables will be held online and in English language every Thursday, bringing together scholars, curators, and artists to explore the political, artistic and cultural resonances of the Bandung Conference. 

Thursday, 28 October 2021, 09:00 (CEST) 

Shabbir Hussain Mustafa
“We are not merely the objects of history chained to a law of challenge and response.” Sirimavo Bandaranaike and the Staging of the 5th NAM Summit

Shabbir Hussain Mustafa explores the esthetics and emotions that accompanied the 5th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Narrated through the figure of the then Sri Lankan premier Sirimavo Bandaranaike who declared the Summit as a display of “an absolute modernity,” Mustafa attempts to locate Colombo and Bandaranaike vis-à-vis the ‘big players’ of the NAM, i.e., India, Yugoslavia, Egypt, and Indonesia, who lent a particular form of masculinity to the project. He proposes Bandaranaike offered a different approach to world-making and the call of history. Along the way, he entangles stories about art, tropical modernism, and the geopolitical role of India and China as figures in Sri Lanka’s esthetic contemplation.

Suman Gopinath Grant Watson
The Poet in Bandung

In 1927, Indian poet and educationalist Rabindranath Tagore visited Indonesia to explore ancient civilizational links and encourage exchange. Tagore’s visit was choreographed by the colonial authorities, concerned that it might incite nationalist rebels. However, a brief opening in their absence led to an encounter with Sukarno in Bandung. Focusing on these episodes but not attempting to force a link with later historical events, this research investigates the transcultural as well as political dialogues that occurred between India and Indonesia several decades before the Bandung Conference (1955).

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