Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, College of Liberal Arts
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
IAS Faculty Fellow, Fall 2020
Birds Don’t Die
My time as an IAS Residential fellow is focused on developing my current book project, tentatively titled as Birds Don’t Die. Set in four cities of India—Agra, Lucknow, Bombay, and Madras—Birds Don’t Die tells in the genre of historical fiction a love story that spans 115 years of women's, family, and social history, roughly between the 1850s and 1960s. It draws on diaries and documented and undocumented histories of six generations of a family while exploring the complex and contradictory meanings of oppression and freedom in relation to gender, sexuality, caste, class, and nation during a period that begins around the time of the Indian Revolt against the rule of British East India Company in 1857 and ends twenty-two years after India’s formal independence and partition in 1947. In immersing itself in the praxis and poetics of storytelling for justice, Birds Don’t Die grapples with the messy relationships among truth, fiction, and justice and it highlights how every human is an antagonist and a protagonist. It illustrates the ways in which we crush some lives and truths in order to highlight that which is already empowered and privileged, and the madness that results from all of this.
Richa Nagar is Professor of the College in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Her multi-lingual and multi-genre work blends scholarship, creative writing, theatre, and activism to build alliances with people’s struggles and to engage questions of ethics, responsibility, and justice. Richa has published eight books and dozens of essays, articles, plays, and poems in English and Hindi, including the trilogy: Playing with Fire: Feminist Thought and Activism through Seven Lives in India (2006), Muddying the Waters: Coauthoring Feminisms Across Scholarship and Activism (2014), and Hungry Translations: Relearning the World Through Radical Vulnerability (2019). Her work has been translated into German, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Marathi, and Turkish. Richa has worked closely with the Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan, a movement of farmers and laborers in India’s Sitapur District, since its founding, and she has co-created a multi-sited community theatre project called Parakh and the online journal, AGITATE! Unsettling Knowledges.
This series features an IAS Residential Fellow—a Faculty Fellow, Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellow, or Community of Scholars Fellow. Each profile is written by the participant as a way to share their projects, goals, and experiences as part of their time at the IAS.