Prof. Ananya Jahanara Kabir, one among the Infosys Prize laureates, will be conferred with the prestigious award on Wednesday. A winner under the Humanities category, her works – Territory of Desire: Representing the Valley of Kashmir and Partition’s Post-Amnesias, which deal with the Kashmiri postcolonial resistance and the impact of the formation of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh – were among her major contributions that won her the acclaim.
A researcher and trained critic, Prof Kabir said that her interest in looking into conflicts in South Asian regions developed while she was doing her doctoral thesis on Medieval European Literature. “At the personal level, being a member of a Bengali family, which faced the impact of the 1971 Partition, motivated me to link my studies with such issues. Unearthing repercussions of colonisation and understanding how the events of 1947 were related to those in 1971 have been among my major areas of interest,” she said.
‘Kashmiri narrative is protective’She said that her numerous visits to Kashmir between 2003 and 2008, instead of depending on archival research, helped her understand and collect data for her study from real life situations. “The Kashmiri narrative indicated how protective they are of their beautiful landscape and how they want to have their own relationship with their motherland through spirituality and language,” explained Prof. Kabir.
‘Cinema in Kashmir, Music in Bangladesh’ She found that cinema and music played a key role in connecting the people of different regions in the country. “In Kashmir, the visual and sonic dimension of cinema was seen to have played an influential role in instilling a sense of union among the people. At the same time, music played a similar role in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) as it was shared across borders irrespective of the language. Understanding the language politics and how it is related to the identity of the people was another interesting dimension of the study,” she said. Prof. Kabir is currently working on her project Modern Moves, which studies the music and dance cultures of various African and African-diasporic communities worldwide.