British Asian culture festival flies over to India and Bangkok

A festival of British Asian culture is being taken to New Delhi and Bangkok, to celebrate the contribution and innovation of South Asians to the culture and life of Britain since the 1950’s. This includes an exhibition entitled ‘The Southall Story’; a film festival showcasing films that have never been seen in India and will for the first time show a very different view of the scattered Asian population to that of the homeland; a music concert ‘Postcards From Home’ and workshops.

The Festival is curated by the three founding members of the Southall Story organisation: musician and producer Kuljit Bhamra, film-maker and writer Shakila Taranum Maan, and photographer Ammy Phull, in collaboration with Dr Jerri Daboo from the University of Exeter, UK.

New elements to the exhibition, which has already been exhibited at the British Library, Southbank Centre in London, and the Dominion Centre in Southall, includes material gathered from a research project in association with Drama lecturer, Dr Daboo, who has filmed over 150 interviews with artists and activists from Southall, and shows the fascinating story of its people, heritage and arts.

The ten day festival 13 – 23 November starts at the India International Centre, New Delhi with the Southall Story, an exhibition which focuses on the town in west London, which has been a place of migration for many different communities, particularly from the South Asian diaspora. Consisting of panels, photographs and audio-visual material, the exhibition covers art forms including music, particularly the development of the British sound of bhangra, film, theatre and dance, as well as social organisations such as story of the Indian Workers Association, the National Association of Asian Youth, and the Southall Black Sisters, and tells of life in Southall today with its mixture of communities and stories of migration.

Dr Daboo said:“We're very pleased to be able to take the exhibition to Delhi, and hold the Festival as well. This will offer a different view of the diaspora to the 'homeland' of India, showing both culture and a political history that tells of the important contribution made by Asians in Britain. In a few of the interviews conducted, I heard of how musicians experienced racism when they were younger and of those organisations such as the Indian Workers Association and the Southall Black Sisters who dealt with racist immigrant laws in the 1960’s and 70’s are now remobilising to deal with the current immigration laws.”

The Southall Story exhibition will be transferred to Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok in December 2013.  Bangkok has a large Indian community, and it is through this diaspora that academics from the UK and Bangkok seek to explore a new oral history project similar to that in Southall. The connection with Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok has developed through having several faculty and students from the University, such as Jay Sinthuphan who was studying for a PhD in the Department of Drama in Exeter.

Dr Daboo explained:“This has cemented a relationship between the two departments through the alumni students now establishing collaborative projects with academics from Exeter. Using the Southall Story project as a model for working with the Indian communities in Bangkok will be a mutual learning and research experience for both universities, and we hope to continue to develop this connection through future activities.”

The Festival is sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK; the Asian Arts Agency, UK; the British Council in India; and the University of Exeter, UK.


Date: 12 November 2013

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