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Join AAWW and Suchitra Vijayan and Francesca Recchia for a discussion on their book HOW LONG CAN THE MOON BE CAGED: VOICES OF INDIAN POLITICAL PRISONERS, a powerful look at authoritarian India through the experiences of political prisoners. In this book, Vijayan and Recchia look at the current ladnscape of India through the stories of political prisoners ― combining political analysis with firsthand testimonies, the book explores the experiences of prisoners and their families, telling a story of destruction of institutions and erosion of rights. This conversation will be moderated by Madhuri Sastry.
“At no time have governments been moralists. They never imprisoned people and executed them for having done something. They imprisoned and executed them to keep them from doing something. They imprisoned all those prisoners of war, of course, not for treason to the motherland…They imprisoned all of them to keep them from telling their fellow villagers about Europe. What the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve for.” ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956
Suchitra Vijayan is an essayist, lawyer, and photographer working across oral history, state violence, and visual storytelling. She is the author of the critically acclaimed book Midnight’s Borders: A People’s History of Modern India (Melville House, New York) and How Long Can the Moon Be Caged? Voices of Indian Political Prisoners (Pluto Press). Her essays, photographs, and interviews have appeared in The Washington Post, GQ, The Nation, The Boston Review, Foreign Policy, Lit Hub, Rumpus, Electric Literature, NPR, NBC, and BBC. As an attorney, she worked for the United Nations war crimes tribunals in Yugoslavia and Rwanda before co-founding the Resettlement Legal Aid Project in Cairo, giving Iraqi refugees legal aid. She is an award-winning photographer and the founder and executive director of the Polis Project, a hybrid research and journalism organization. She teaches at NYU Gallatin and Columbia University’s Oral History Program and lives in New York.
Francesca Recchia is an independent researcher, educator and writer whose work is grounded in the values and principles of decolonial philosophy and radical pedagogy. She is interested in the geopolitical dimension of heritage and cultural processes in countries in conflict. Francesca has worked in different capacities in Palestine, Pakistan, India, Kashmir, Iraq and Afghanistan. Her latest assignment in Kabul was as Acting Director of the Afghan Institute for Arts and Architecture. She is the author of How long can the moon be caged? Voices of Indian political prisoners (with Suchitra Vijayan), The Little Book of Kabul (with Lorenzo Tugnoli), Picnic in a Minefield and Devices for Political Action (with a photo-essay by Leo Novel).
Madhuri Sastry, publisher at Guernica Mag, is a writer from India. Her political writing, essays, and cultural criticism have appeared in several publications including The Nation, Slate, Bitch, Catapult and Serious Eats. She holds masters’ degrees in law with a focus on human rights from The London School of Economics and from New York University. She lives in Brooklyn. Find her on Twitter.
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