“The Art of the Borderland across South and Southeast Asia” is an initiative for virtually held public conversations with writers, researchers, and artists whose work extends and diversifies engagements with the geographically contiguous regions of South and Southeast Asia, a space that includes territorial borderlines yet which also comprises social and cultural systems that straddle and exceed them. The second public conversation as part of this initiative is with the anthropologists Arkotong Longkumer (University of Edinburgh) and Clare Harris (University of Oxford) about their proposed project on making colonially collected material from the Naga prophetess Gaidinliu accessible to Indigenous communities in the borderlands of northeast India. The conversation will focus on the scope of their forthcoming research that draws on Indigenous perspectives to engage with the histories as well as ritual and cultural values of objects and what this means for decolonizing museums. Arkotong Longkumer and Clare Harris will be in conversation with Akshaya Tankha (Yale University).
Arkotong Longkumer is a Senior Lecturer in Modern Asia at the University of Edinburgh, UK. He is the author of The Greater India Experiment: Hindutva and the Northeast published by Stanford University Press, which was long-listed for the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay New India Foundation Book Prize 2021. He is the recipient of the British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship (2017-18), Visiting Fellowships to The Arctic University of Norway, and is currently the Principal Investigator on a 3-year funded project by the Leverhulme Trust on Gurus and Media.
Clare Harris is Professor of Visual Anthropology in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography and Curator for Asian Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford. She is also a Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford. She has published widely on art, museums, photography, and the politics of representation, particularly in relation to Tibet and the Tibetan diaspora. Her award-winning publications include ‘In the Image of Tibet’ (1999) and ‘The Museum on the Roof of the World: Art, Politics and the Representation of Tibet’ (2012). Her most recent monograph is ‘Photography and Tibet’ and her latest exhibition, ‘Performing Tibetan Identities’, was co-curated with the Tibetan photographer Nyema Droma. Professor Harris has received many grants in support of her research and in 2019 she was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy.
Akshaya Tankha is an art historian of modern and contemporary South Asia and the Postdoctoral Associate and Lecturer at the South Asian Studies Council at Yale University. Tankha’s current book project examines the boundary work that objects and their makers perform across ritual and secular domains of practice, the contestations this process engenders, and what that tells us about the significance of art and the political significance of the aesthetic in the Indigenously-inhabited state of Nagaland in northeast India.
Please register for this event here.