25 April 2017 from 16:00 to 17:30

Doing Gender lecture by Ashok Mathur

Ashok Mathur
Ashok Mathur

On 25 April Ashok Mathur will give the next Doing Gender lecture, entitled 'The Short, Happy Life of Harry Kumar: island hopping and gender swapping'. This lecture is part of the Doing Gender lectures, organised by the Netherlands Research School of Gender Studies in cooperation with the Graduate Gender Programme (GGeP) at Utrecht University.

As an artist, critic, and novelist, Ashok Mathur is interested in how our bodies, histories and geographies inflect our contemporary social and political conditions. Through his fiction, which often incorporates South Asian mythologies and contemporary practices of magical realism and intertextual strategies, he tries to comprehend this relationship by exposing the reader to multiple and alternative realities.

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.

Writing process

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.

Start date and time
25 April 2017 16:00
End date and time
25 April 2017 17:30
Entrance fee
Free