Islands as sites of incarceration
In his novel The Short, Happy Life of Harry Kumar, he became fixated on the origins and interpretations of the Ramayana, particularly the kidnapping of Sita and sequestering her on the island of Lanka, and the highly constructed gender implications of duty and responsibility. He began to investigate the multiple global histories of islands as sites of incarceration, exile, and isolation, and what this meant for a contemporary reality of migration and citizenship.
In the lecture Mathur will unravel the process of writing this novel, not just about the various island sites, but from them, as the novel was written as a peripatetic exercise as he travelled, researched and wrote while inhabiting each of these island locations. He will show how the creative process is itself a flexible one, far from the clichéd notion of writing being isolationist and best enacted from a singular fixed location. He will present short excerpts from the novel and illustrated annotations that discuss the value and importance of gendered and raced readings in the production of meaning through fiction.
About the speaker
Ashok Mathur’s cultural, critical, creative, and academic practice is wide ranging and investigates new models of artistic research and interdisciplinary collaboration, particularly those that pursue a social justice agenda. As a writer, cultural organizer, and interdisciplinary artist his work addresses the intersections of race, indigeneity, and creative and artistic research. As current Head of the Department of Creative Studies at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan campus, Mathur works with critical race theory and radical/liberatory pedagogy to develop transformational and student-driven learning models.