Professor Richa Nagar, Professor of the College at the University of Minnesota will deliver a Presidential Highlighted Session sponsored by the CIES Gender and Education Committee titled Hungry Translations: Storytelling, Movement, Pedagogy. In this talk, Nagar will engage a fundamental inequality that distorts the making of knowledge and policy across north/south borders: the bodies who are seen as poor, hungry, rural and/or precarious are assumed to be available for the interventions of experts seeking to help them, but those experts often fail to see and acknowledge the ways that the hungry actively create politics and knowledge by living and honing a dynamic vision of what is ethical, what makes a good life, and what brings hope. The hope of the hungry, furthermore, often involves a creative praxis of refusal against imposed terms, languages, and frameworks. This raises a key challenge for the scholar and teacher located in the northern academia: that of finding ethically responsible ways to collaborate in the production of knowledge in ways that converse across different meanings of hunger, hope, struggle, and good life. Based on journeys undertaken since 1996 with activists, theatre artists, writers, and students in India and the USA, Nagar urges us to hunger for ethical translations that are embedded in ongoing embodied alliances among those who occupy different locations in predominant epistemic hierarchies. Such alliance work is committed to co-imagining radical practices of translation that are committed to building just dialogues across the contested terrains where the locals of the enfranchised and disenfranchised often meet one another. It insists on blurring rigid definitions of such categories as writer, educator, activist, artist, peasant, and laborer and it co-agitates for ethical translations across languages of difference.
Professor Nagar currently holds a Russell M. and Elizabeth M. Bennett Chair in Excellence and a Beverly and Richard Fink Professorship in Liberal Arts. Her multi-lingual and multi-genre research and teaching blends scholarship, creative writing, political theatre, and community activism to build alliances with people’s struggles and to engage questions of ethical responsibility and epistemic justice in and through knowledge making. Richa’s co/authored or co/edited books in Hindi and English include: Sangtin Yatra: Saat Zindgiyon Mein Lipta Nari Vimarsh (2004), Playing with Fire: Feminist Thought and Activism through Seven Lives in India (2006), A World of Difference: Encountering and Contesting Development (2009), Critical Transnational Feminist Praxis (2010), Ek Aur Neemsaar: Sangtin Atmamanthan Aur Andolan (2012), Muddying the Waters: Coauthoring Feminisms Across Scholarship and Activism (2014), and Main aur Mera Man: Sharad Nagar (2016). Richa has also worked with the Sangtin Kisaan Mazdoor Sangathan, a movement of farmers and laborers in India’s Sitapur District, which evolved from the writing of Sangtin Writers, and she has cobuilt a multi-sited community theatre project called Parakh, with Mumbai-based artist Tarun Kumar. Parakh brings together amateurs and professional actors to reflect on social issues through literary texts and through their own stories.