Cornell University

SAP Seminar Series: "Art as Ethnography: Troubling Narratives" by Sumathy Sivamohan

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 4:30pm to 6:00pm

Uris Hall, G08 109 Tower Road, Ithaca, NY 14850

“Troubling Narratives” is a plotting of stories that counter and sit tangential to projects that foreground observation as an ethnography of truth telling. It is the historical place where the authorial voice has been displaced to the scene of erasure and subjectivity and has been simultaneously recast in the role of the humble but elected voice of knowledge, traversing a universe of ‘other’ voices. It claims universality and at the same time the humble subjectivity of the ‘human.’ The recourse to ethnography here will be specifically routed through an engagement with Margaret Trawick’s work on the Sri Lankan war, Enemy Lines, proposing a counter point to it, through an engaged political positioning in which the humanity of all subjects is submitted to constant renegotiation and commitments. “Troubling Narratives” seeks to ask questions about truth and truth telling, seen as transparent activities, and instead proposes the process as moments of contestation.

Sumathy Sivamohan is Professor of English at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. An award-winning filmmaker, performer, playwright, poet, translator and academic, she has worked in the areas of gender, dispossession, the displaced, and the fraught question of nation. Her creative work emphasizes the idiom of conversation and colloquiality, while experimenting in form and style. She has performed widely, namely Delhi, New York, London, Melbourne, Zurich and nationally in many parts of the country. In 2011 she was awarded the Premchand Fellowship by the Sahithya Akademi of India. 

Event Type



Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Asian Studies, South Asia Program


Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Daniel Bass

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Sivamohan Sumathy

Speaker Affiliation

University of Peradeniya (English)

Disability Access Information

Wheelchair accessible

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