Archives at the National Centre for Biological Sciences
Public Lecture Series

Monthly talks framed around explorations in and around histories of science. Discussions by archivists, historians, teachers, journalists, scientists, artists and others. 

Women’s Lives, Women’s Words
Some Thoughts on Feminism as Experience and Writing Women into History
Friday, 5pm, May 17 2019
Lecture Hall-1 (Haapus), NCBS

There are ways in which women get written into history. But their lived lives, literary and other narratives have countered mainstream history writing all along. Generally, history, which includes lived experiences and narratives of people, politics, literature, art, performance and pedagogy, has viewed women in specific ways. I will be making an attempt in my speech using literature, history, oral history, performance and visual resources and my own experience as a writer and archivist to illustrate the specificity of mainstream history narratives with regard to women, and counter narratives which I see as feminist.
The Sound and Picture Archives for Research on Women (SPARROW), Mumbai, started in 1988. The idea was not to set up a Women's Archives as just a collection centre but to create an archive that would be more vibrant and more communicative. The space contains tens of thousands of cartoons, oral history recordings, photographs, art work, documentaries, books, journal articles, private papers, print visuals and more.
The talk will be interspersed with personal memories of growing up in the post Independence decades and the values that filled our lives as women and how despite all odds women managed to make space for themselves in the home sphere and the public sphere. The core of the talk is about memories and recall and how making heard unheard voices is the only way to understand, reinterpret and rewrite history.
Speaker Bio (Text from Penguin and Library of Congress, U.S.)
C S Lakshmi is a distinguished fiction writer in Tamil who writes under the pseudonym, Ambai. She is considered to be one of the most important Tamil writers today. Her works are characterized by her passionate espousal of the cause of women, humor, a lucid and profound style, and a touch of realism. Most of her stories are about relationships and they contain brilliant observations about contemporary life. Exploration of space, silence, coming to terms with one's body or sexuality, and the importance of communication are some of the recurring themes in her works. Her stories have been translated by Lakshmi Holmström in two volumes entitled ‘A Purple Sea’ and ‘In a Forest, a Deer’. Ambai was awarded the Lifetime Literary Achievement Award of Tamil Literary Garden, University of Toronto, Canada, for the year 2008. CS Lakshmi is also an independent researcher in Women's Studies for the past thirty years and has several publications to her credit. She is the founder trustee and currently the Director of SPARROW (Sound & Picture Archives for Research on Women).
Note: The Archives at NCBS has copies of Ambai’s work (translated in English) in the Archives Reading Room.