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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Seminar on Resistance against Rape Culture and Sexism in Globalizing India

Dr. KrishnanSASA, in collaboration with SASNET, organised a highly interesting seminar on “Rape culture and sexism in globalising India” with Dr. Radhika Krishnan on the 5th of November 2015 at 17.00 at the External Relations Desk at Lund University, Stora Algatan 4, Lund. See the poster. The seminar was as usual recorded and is now available on Youtube. Go for the video.

The lecture took its starting point in the horrific and gruesome gang-rape of a 23 year-old woman in Delhi in December 2012, which was followed by massive protests in different parts of India. A vivid discussion followed her presentation, with inputs by both students and faculty in the audience.

Dr. Krishnan is currently guest researcher at Linnaeus University in Växjö/Kalmar where she is connected to the Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies during the entire 2015. She has a PhD from the Centre for Studies in Science Policy at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi. Her doctoral research attempted to explore the trade unionist Shankar Guha Niyogi’s varied reflections and interventions under the broad rubrics of environment, development and technology. An electrical engineer by training, Radhika has worked with the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) for several years. Her research has essentially looked at the interactions between technological regimes, communities and local ecologies. Her research interests also include the new social movements of the 1970s and 1980s, which articulated the complex response of peasants, labourers and adivasis (India’s indigenous people) to the ‘development’ project presented to them. Full abstract.

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Success for Fika without borders Bangladesh seminar

manpreetlund15SASA organised its eighth informal Fika Without Borders South Asia event in collaboration with SASNET on Thursday 22 October 2015 from 17.00-19.00 focusing on Bangladeshi food and music. It was a grand success. More than 70 people came to attend.

The main presentation for this edition was given by Manpreet Janeja, assistant professor at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies at the University of Copenhagen. She discussed how food plays a prominent role in variegated trajectories of imagining Bangladesh. Food figures in visual art, music, religious rituals, as well as literary tropes, development discourses, and the political economy of hunger. The talk focused on the aesthetics of normal food in imagining Bangladesh. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, it examined the practices of everyday cooking and eating ‘normal Bengali meals’ in middle-class households in the city of Dhaka that employ cooks from poor classes, also drawn from other parts of Bangladesh. In so doing, it illuminates the dynamic character of the aesthetics of food as integral to forms of belonging and domesticity. This way the presentation invited the audience to approach the form that a meal acquires as a window on the flux of everyday life in the South Asian city.banglafikamat

After the presentation there was delicious Bengali food served – food being prepared by the SASA board members assisted by Bubu Eklund and Jacco Visser.

The programme ended with a music performance by Lund Baul’s, a music group interpreting Bangladeshi Baul music. The event was held at Kårhusets Hörsal, LTH, John Ericssons väg 3, Lund. This semester’s SASA/SASNET Fika Without Borders series started with a well attended event on the Maldives on the 1st of October. On the 26th of November 2015 the next edition will take place focusing on Afghanistan.

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SASA Travel Grants awarded to two Lund University students

On 21 October 2015, decisions were taken regarding the latest round of SASA Travel Grants for Lund University students. For the Spring semester 2016, SASA awarded travel grants to three Lund University students in order to undertake a field study in relation to a thesis in any of the eight South Asian countries. One of them has however decided to do fieldwork outside South Asia, so two successful candidates remain:

• Otso Harju, Masters student in Asian Studies at the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, with an application dealing with female domestic servants employed by middle class, young unmarried metropolitan women in India.
• Sanchari De, PhD student at the Department of Communication and Media, regarding a project on the connection on social media and social movements against the backdrop of the Shahbag movement in Bangladesh.

The application round was open during September and early October 2015 for students enrolled at Lund university at full time study programmes, preferably including a South Asia focus. The purpose of the travel grants is to give the students the opportunity to visit South Asian countries to carry out their field work and directly engage with local actors to achieve more objective and thorough results. The funding comes from SASNET, that also provides the students assistance with connections and resources needed to complete high quality field work.

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Big crowd attended Fika without borders seminar focusing on Maldives

SASA organised its fifth 2015 Fika without borders seminar, this time focusing on The Maldives, on Thursday 1 October 2015, 17–19, at the usual venue: the basement floor at Lund University External Relations (ER) building, Stora Algatan 4, Lund. The Maldives seminar drew a record crowd of more than 70 people. It consisted of three informal talks about the Maldives; one on climate change risks and tourism, and another on journalistic freedom in the country. See the poster.

maldives145bThe first presentation was given by Nils Finn Munch-Petersen (on photo), Senior expert at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) in Copenhagen, Denmark. He spoke about the Maldives before the advent of tourism, perceptions of climate change,  Maldivian Islam and the erosion of journalistic freedoms.

Nashfa Hawwa and Axel Vikström.

Nashfa Hawwa and Axel Vikström.

The second presentation was given by Nashfa Hawwa, Maldivian student in the Master’s programme in Environmental Management and Policy at Lund University. She illustrated how tourism on the islands is adopted to increasing climate change risks. She did so based on her own experiences on the island as well as her involvement in the Tourism Adaptation Project (TAP). Tourism is the dominant sector of the Maldivian economy and is linked to many other industries such as agriculture, fisheries and waste management. The talk will engage with the ways in which climate change undermines the resilience and viability of these industries and provides insights into how risks can be minimized by altering day-to-day tourism operations.

The third presentation was given by Axel Vikström, a student of journalism at Lund University. His talk was based on his experiences in the Maldives for a study project on reporting on the democracy crisis in the Maldives, a decline in human rights, decreasing religious tolerance and disappearing journalists. For his project he received a fieldwork grant from SASA/SASNET.
In between the talks, coffee, tea and Maldivian tuna fish snacks were served!
Fika Without Borders South Asia events is a project started by SASA, in collaboration with SASNET, in which SASA organises a fika once a month, each time focusing on one of the eight South Asian countries. The 2015 series started with a Nepal fika on 5th February, an India fika on March 19th, a Pakistan fika on May 7th, and a Sri Lanka seminar on May 28th. Upcoming events are a Bangladesh seminar on October 22nd,and an Afghanistan seminar on November 26th.


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Sri Lanka in focus for this year’s fourth Fika Without Borders

nar_de_dodar_journalisterSASA organised its fourth and final for the spring semester 2015 Fika without borders seminar on Thursday 28 May 2015, 17–19, at the usual venue: the basement floor at Lund
University External Relations (ER) building, Stora Algatan 4, Lund. See poster.
The May 28th event was dedicated to Sri Lanka, and two interesting presentations were given. The first speaker was Swedish journalist Johan Mikaelsson, who recently published a book entitled ”När de dödar journalister” (When they kill journalists), on the long civil war in Sri Lanka ending in 2009.

In the book, he gives a background to the war, the dangerous reporting about the conflict, and obstacles for the media in Sri Lanka from his professional and research experiences. Point to be mentioned, Sri Lanka is ranked 165 of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, one of about ten black-marked countries in the world. On the other hand, Mikaelsson sees possibilities for improvement with the change of government in January 2015. More information about the book.

The second speaker was PhD candidate Andreas Johansson, affiliated to both Lund University and Linnaeus University in Växjö, doing research on Muslim and Buddhist political organizations in Sri Lanka. In particular he has studied the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and the Bodu Bala Sena. Andreas, who will soon defend his doctoral dissertation at the Dept. of History of Religion in Lund, is currently also working part-time for SASNET, being in charge of the recent EASAS May 2015 workshop in Höllviken.

Delicious Mullygatatwny Soup was also served. Fika Without Borders South Asia events is a project started by SASA, in collaboration with SASNET, in which SASA organises a fika once a month, each time focusing on one of the eight South Asian countries. The 2015 series started with a Nepal fika on 5th February, an India fika on March 19th, and a Pakistan fika on May 7th.

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