In Her Footsteps
Archiving Women’s Oral Narratives in the Eastern Himalayas
The Eastern Himalayan region is known for its diversity and also for both migration from the bordering nation-states, as well as migration to outside the state. The current history of the Eastern Himalayas, especially Darjeeling Hills and Sikkim is part of this narrative of migration that has not only led to changes in the demographics, but also politics, community identity as well as food cultures.
Haat Bazar, Kalimpong (2023)
The project aims to record and capture the oral narratives of women that would leave for both further interpretation in the future, while also documenting stories of these migrations. The past i.e., history is not only crucial for us to understand the past but also helps make sense of the future and the present. Through these paths, we hope to create an oral archive of stories that is slowly being lost in the abyss, due to the lack of researchers working on the migrants' histories who are now authentic Indians.
Secondly, women's stories also give us a more nuanced insight into how society was structured. Women’s migration in South Asia is always seen as a by-product of male outmigration, hence we want to focus on women who migrated for various reasons other than marriage in a different country.
Photo of Pasang Dolma, atop her chuba and pangden that she brought from Tibet during her migration with her mother.
It is said, oral history recordings can interpret history. We are personalising history by putting the experiences of women who migrated years ago firmly in our display. Through this collective and individual memory, we are trying to learn and unlearn what we were taught and what we already know.
We also hope that the viewers find a way to connect with the voices of these women, across generations. We hope viewers’ think about their own past or get more interested to find out more.
Behind the scenes of the team working on the project.
From top left- Nilanjana, Norzin Dolma, Mariam Shakuli (mola), Shuvangi, Aitamaya Thami (boju), Shivam Darnal
Project coordinator: Nangsel Sherpa
Producer: Shuvangi Khadka
Production Team: Nilanjana, Susmita Aryal, Norzin Dolma
Photographer : Shivam Darnal
This project follows the footsteps of our interviewees, travelling across borders, without them our project would not have been conceived. They have showed us unwavering love, warmth and support giving us their precious time and sharing their life stories with us. We are indebted to all our interviewees for being part of this project.
This project was originally created for Gender Bender 2023, produced by Sandbox Collective and Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Bangalore.