The Color Curtain and the Promise of Bandung

A series of roundtables reappraising Asian-African political imagination

Thursday, 28 October, 9h (CEST)

with Shabbir Hussain Mustafa, Suman Gopinath & Grant Watson

hosted by Vera Mey

Shabbir Hussain Mustafa

“We are not merely the objects of history chained to a law of challenge and response.” Sirimavo Bandaranaike and the Staging of the 5th NAM Summit

Shabbir Hussain Mustafa explores the esthetics and emotions that accompanied the 5th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Narrated through the figure of the then Sri Lankan premier Sirimavo Bandaranaike who declared the Summit as a display of “an absolute modernity,” Mustafa attempts to locate Colombo and Bandaranaike vis-à-vis the ‘big players’ of the NAM, i.e., India, Yugoslavia, Egypt, and Indonesia, who lent a particular form of masculinity to the project. He proposes Bandaranaike offered a different approach to world-making and the call of history. Along the way, he entangles stories about art, tropical modernism, and the geopolitical role of India and China as figures in Sri Lanka’s esthetic contemplation.

Suman Gopinath Grant Watson

The Poet in Bandung

In 1927, Indian poet and educationalist Rabindranath Tagore visited Indonesia to explore ancient civilizational links and encourage exchange. Tagore’s visit was choreographed by the colonial authorities, concerned that it might incite nationalist rebels. However, a brief opening in their absence led to an encounter with Sukarno in Bandung. Focusing on these episodes but not attempting to force a link with later historical events, this research investigates the transcultural as well as political dialogues that occurred between India and Indonesia several decades before the Bandung Conference (1955).