Home-rule and the Critique of Modern Society

On Thursday 20 October, 17-19 SASA continued its Fika Without Borders series with a lecture by Erik Ringmar, Senior lecturer in Department of Political Science at Lund University. He held a lecture entitled: “Home-rule and the Critique of Modern Society”. 

Photos from: Lund University and Wikipedia

Photos from: Lund University and Wikipedia

In his Hind Swaraj, Mohandas Gandhi was sharply critical of modern society as foisted upon India by the British. Yet this critique of modern society was itself quite a staple of conservative, romantic and reactionary thought in Europe itself. In his talk Erik Ringmar explored this connection, reflecting on the meaning of ‘home-rule.’


After the lecture, an Indian “Poha” inspired snack was served, prepared by some of the members of SASA.

Venue: the basement floor at Lund University External Relations (ER) building, Stora Algatan 4, Lund.

Fika Without Borders events were popularised by participants in the ”Social Innovation in a Digital Context (SIDC)” programme at Lund University 2013. The concept comes from the belief that a coffee table gathering can bring together people from all over the world. SASA has held these Fika Without Borders events once a month since 2013, and each time the focus has been on one of the eight South Asian countries.

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Fika Without Borders: Nepal

On Thursday 29 September, 17-19 SASA continued its Fika Without Borders series with a lecture by Lalita Bashyal, PhD Scholar in Centre for the Study of Social System at JNU. She held a lecture entitled: “The Status of Women and Female Community Health Volunteers in Nepal”.
Photo: WHO

Photo: WHO

The status of women in Nepal is considered subordinate to men. Patriarchal values and customs embedded in religion, social customs and the laws continue to adversely impact women’s political involvement, employment in the public sphere, enrolment in higher education, and work performance. In this adverse environment Female Community Health Volunteers are recognized for contributing to improve the maternal and child health of Nepal. Female Community Health Volunteers work as a bridge between community and the health system of Nepal. Absenteeism of medical professionals is still prevalent in rural part of Nepal. In this meager situation, Female Community Health Volunteers role become vital in the rural health sector where more than 70% of the people reside. Hence this seminar will try to divulge the role and status of Female Community Health Volunteers working in the same community they belong to in order to improve health and status of women in Nepal.

After the lecture SASA served Samosas and tea!

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Fika Without Borders Sri Lanka

Orjuela Camilla Globala studier Gšteborgs universitetOn Thursday 26 May, 17-19 SASA continued its Fika Without Borders series with a lecture by Camilla Orjuela, Associate Professor in Peace and Development Research at University of Gothenburg. She will hold a lecture entitled: Struggles about justice in post-war Sri Lanka.

It is now seven years since the long and brutal civil war in Sri Lanka ended. Many questions remain about how to deal with the county’s violent past. In September 2015, the Sri Lankan government co-sponsored a resolution in the United Nations Human Rights Council in which it committed to investigate human rights violations during the war. This lecture looks into how the process of transitional justice in Sri Lanka is proceeding. It looks at the challenges for reconciliation and the new and old conflicts that emerge in the struggles about post-war justice.

As usual we served delicious South Indian snacks and tea!

Venue: the basement floor at Lund University External Relations (ER) building, Stora Algatan 4, Lund.

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Talk on Sustainable Development

Photo by Framtidsjorden

A greenhouse in Ladakh, India (Photo: Future Earth)

On Wednesday 27 April, SASA welcomed representatives from Future Earth and The Swallows India Bangladesh for a talk on sustainable development. Around 50 people gathered for the seminar. The venue was as usual in the basement floor at Lund University External Relations (ER) building, Stora Algatan 4, Lund.

Future Earth (Framtidsjorden) and Swallows India Bangladesh (Svalorna Indien-Bangladesh) are two organizations both working for a socially just and ecologically sustainable development and are doing so by supporting and collaborating with local organizations in Asia.

Caroline Nordvall and Kajsa Sennemark Aldman from Swallows showed their documentary on agrarian challenges in India.

Caroline Nordvall and Kajsa Sennemark Aldman from Swallows screened their documentary, dealing with agrarian challenges in India.

During the afternoon interns from the organizations shared their experiences and knowledge of working with issues related to sustainable development in Asia and South America. Some of the topics were: “food sovereignty”, “the adaption to organic farming and its challenges” and “development paradoxes”.

After the presentation there were snacks from India and South America served – snacks prepared by the SASA board members.

Future Earth

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SASA announces travel grants to Lund University students for fall semester 2016

SASA, in collaboration with SASNET, announces a maximum of three travel grants for students that are planning for fieldwork in South Asia during the fall semester of 2016. The grants will cover travel expenses for airline tickets for applicants to do fieldwork in a South Asian country for up to a maximum of 8000,- SEK. Students enrolled at Lund University who plan to do fieldwork in South Asia are eligible to apply.
In order to do so, fill in the application form, enclose your CV and an up-to-date copy of your LADOK results, and e-mail these to SASNET Deputy Director Lars Eklund at lars.eklund@sasnet.lu.se  no later than April 10, 2016 at noon. Applications will be ranked based on the quality of the project proposal, relevance of the research, grades of the applicant and the experiences as listed in the CV. SASA and SASNET expect to announce a new round of fieldwork grants for those doing fieldwork during the spring for the spring semester 2017. Like the SASA Facebook page to stay updated on grant announcements and activities. For questions and more information contact Elina Vidarsson at elina-maria.vidarsson@sasnet.lu.se. We look forward to receiving your application!

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Bangladesh in focus for third Fika Without Borders seminar

mka_474SASA organised its third Fika Without Borders lecture of 2016 on Thursday 10 March. This time the focus country was Bangladesh. Around 30 people gathered for the seminar. Venue: Usual place at the Lund University External Relations building basement, Stora Algatan 4, Lund. See the Youtube video of the seminar.

Morten Koch Andersen, researcher at Dignity, the Danish Institute Against Torture in Copenhagen lectured on how human rights documentation and reporting is a dangerous and difficult practice in Bangladesh. A key challenge in human rights work is how to identify victims and document violations. In his presentation Andersen investigated how human rights activists in Bangladesh assist survivors of human rights violations and document violations and show how human rights activism and documentation unfold at the intersection of global discourses, national politics and local power configurations. Each level condition and circumscribe the ways in which human rights documentation is carried out, set the limits for gathering of information and delimit what is made public.

The presentation illuminated how documentation is carried out by a variety of human rights actors; local activists, national NGO’s and journalists, according to individual rationalities and thresholds of importance and urgency that define whether a violent incident become a case of human right violation. Each actor chose what, and what not, to document and filters information according to the need of the victim and their families, the political situation and the position of the actor in society.  It is the process of filtering of information that determines how incidents of violence, abuse and transgression become human rights cases. Filtering is about the ways in which human rights activists perform their work documentation and reporting on human rights.

As usual, SASA provided fika consisting of South Asian snacks during the event, this time rajma (kidney beans) and potato curry.

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Successful film screening of Sara Singh’s film on Partition

sarah-singh-headshotOn Friday 19 February, SASA in collaboration with SASNET screened the award-winning film The Sky Below by Indo-American film director Sara Singh, specially invited to Sweden for this event. The film deals with the Partition of India, and was screened at Edens Hörsal, House Eden, Paradisgatan 5 H in Lund. See the poster.

The event was well attended by students and scholars from Lund University. After the film a constructive discussion took place about Partition, the obstacles arisen when shooting a film on both sides of the India-Pakistan border while Singh’s upcoming movie projects were also discussed.

This courageous and moving film evokes painful memories and raises powerful issues that continue to trouble the South Asian subcontinent. Lyrically shot on both sides of the Indo-Pak border, the film should be watched by those who care about the legacy of Partition as well as those trying to understand the complexities of fighting wars in those lands. Sara was born in India into the Patiala royal familyin Punjab, now spending her time primarily between New York and South Asia. Her work has been exhibited all over the world including the Victoria & Albert Museum in London; the Asian Civilizations Museum; the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and at universiites such as Oxford and Stanford. This was the first screening in the Nordic countries. More information about the movie and Sara Singh.

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Event with young connectors from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan

On Monday 15 February SASA, organised this years second Fika without borders event in Lund for the participants attending the Young Connectors of the Future (YCF) programme which is being arranged by the Swedish Institute (SI). 29 dynamic young individuals from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan  – 8 from India, 9 from Pakistan and six each from Bangladesh and Afghanistan – spent three weeks in Stockholm during September 2015. Most of them now come back for a follow-up week in Malmö during the period 15-19 February 2016. SASNET deputy director Lars Eklund has been involved in the planning of the 2015 programme, and had invited the group, led by Ulrika Rosvall from SI to the Lund event.

The gathering was held in the auditorium of Lund University’s External Relations building, Stora Algatan 4 in central Lund. The YCF programme participants presented themselves and the work they are involved in back home in South Asia, nice vegetarian food was served, and the Lund based International Tagore Choir performed, a much appreciated performance. See photos from the great pan-South Asian atmosphere at SASNET/YCF gathering in Lund. Many Lund University students turned up for the event, mingled with the YCF participants and established new contacts. Lars Eklund presented SASNET and its activities, and Daniel Gunnarsson from Lund University’s External Relations division presented Lund University as a whole.

YCF is an intercultural leadership programme that aims to lay a foundation for dialogue and knowledge sharing among young leaders from South Asia. The aim is to train young leaders, promising professionals, social workers and entrepreneurs aged between 22 and 32 from South Asia, and to provide the participants with new skills, broadened networks and innovative tools to strengthen their work to drive social change in their respective contexts. The participants represent different sectors of society and are visionaries in positions to make a difference. The participants are actively working for democracy and human rights within the spheres of society, culture, politics, entrepreneurship and media. Applications for the 2016 programme is now open – read more.

The documentary photographer Danial Shah from Pakistan showed his film A Daughter’s Lament – Borders that Separate, a very touching and excellent
production screened in Kashmir. More information about Danial Shah.

Zaiba-a-3Woman holding a photo

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Winnie Bothe lectured on successful Fika Without Borders event

winnie2016The South Asian Student Association (SASA) in collaboration with SASNET organised its first Fika Without borders lecture of 2016 on Thursday 21 January, 17–19. As usual in the basement floor at Lund University External Relations (ER) building, Stora Algatan 4, Lund. Dr. Winnie Bothe from the Department of Political Science at Lund University gave an initiated presentation of the democratization process in Bhutan. A record crowd of students turned up for the event, not the least to try the delicious Bhutanese food prepared by the SASA committee. See the poster.

In her talk, Winnie explained the problems facing a country that is often called the world’s youngest democracy. The notion of democracy raises deeper questions of what a ‘democracy’ entails. It is not simply a reified set of institutions. It is as much about how we imagine these institutions. Drawing legitimacy from European constitutional tradition, the Bhutanese constitution is imagined as a system where the monarch is the guardian of sovereignty. In practice democracy has entered Bhutan, but it mainly engages the interests of the educated elite, whilst the rural citizens are still viewed as too immature to take responsibility for the constitutional rights they are given. In the image of the monarchy, they are engaged in a theatre of displaying respect for their superiors in the state. As such they still fulfil the role as subjects of the King and of those who govern in his name.

The Fika without borders South Asia events consist of a series of eight lectures per year with one of the South Asian countries in focus each time. The events draw a mixed crowd of Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Srilankan, Afghani, Maldivian and other international Lund University students and researchers, and each time a number of students and researchers from the country in focus are invited to share their knowledge and experience of their country in an informal way.

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Well-attended Fika without borders seminar on Afghanistan

Anders FängeOn Thursday 26 November 2015, SASA organised its final 2015 edition of its informal Fika Without Borders South Asia series. This time the country in focus was Afghanistan. At the well-attended event, organised in collaboration with SASNET, Anders Fänge, one of Sweden’s foremost experts on Afghanistan, gave a talk entitled Afghanistan’s Classical Problem – A Functioning State, about Afghanistan’s history focusing on the problems which have been faced by different Afghan governments which have tried to build a state. See the poster. Venue: Basement International Relations Desk, Lund University, Stora Algatan 4, Lund.

It is the absence of a functioning state that is one of the main causes that the country has been affected by unrest and war during long periods since the founding of the nation 1747, and it remains so even today. Since 2001, after the collapse of the Taliban regime and the establishment of the Karzai government, Afghanistan has received billions of dollars aimed at assisting the country in military affairs, development and state building, but plans and ambitions have not been fulfilled. The Taliban insurgency is growing stronger, the new government has obvious difficulties in getting its act together, neighbouring states are interfering, and international military and development assistance are waning.

Anders Fänge has worked as a manager of the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan and has been a pioneer in developing its projects in agriculture, health care, and education. In addition he has been a driving force behind the functional nationwide school system in Afghanistan today. He has also been engaged in securing education for girls and women. In addition to Afghanistan, he has also worked over the past 30 years in Ethiopia for Save the Children, in Central Asia for the Red Cross, and in Somalia and the West Bank for the UN. He holds an honorary doctorate from Umeå University. Besides, Anders is a member of SASNET’s board.

After the lecture, Afghani home-made snacks were served. The delicious food items has been prepared by SASA board members anda  couple of Afghani friends the night before in the kitchen of SASNET deputy director Lars Eklund and his wife Bubu.

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