The Color Curtain and the Promise of Bandung

A series of roundtables reappraising Asian-African political imagination

Thursday, 18 November, 20h (CET)

with Vera Mey, Atreyee Gupta, and Naeem Mohaiemen

hosted by Lara Khaldi

Vera Mey

Artistic alignment and the expanding geographic horizon of modern Cambodian mural paintings 1950s–1960s

Notions of alignment dominated the Cold War political arena, spurred on by new alliances and allegiances that connected through a common condition: being mutually subjugated Global South members. The effect of these new political connections permeated art and visual culture, even in the most unlikely places, such as rural pagodas in modern Cambodia. A curious intersection occurs between the aspirations of a Buddhist cosmopolitanism and the burgeoning ‘worlding’ of Cambodian arts, both grappling with the demands of what the modern, diverse world would look like.

Atreyee Gupta

Vectors of Bandung: The Third World Liberation Front at the University of California, Berkeley

Atreyee Gupta proceeds with the assumption that we need an imaginative history of Bandung, to better understand the intense and inexorable hold that it has exerted on intellectual thought despite the widely acknowledged frailty of its political reality. Therefore, to the growing vectors of transnational gatherings prompted by the moment of Bandung, this talk adds the history of the predominantly West Coast Third World Liberation Front (TWLF) formed by Asian American, African American, Native American, and Latin American students in 1968. While the TWLF has most often been regarded as part of a regional history ­– the coalition, after all, was active solely in the United States and that too only at the San Francisco State University and the University of California, Berkeley – the invocation of the “third” nonetheless univocally linked the TWLF to the Bandung conference and the imagination of the Third World that it spawned. Tracing the intellectual cartography of the TWLF then allows us to intercept the ‘third world’ at dispersed sites of invocation, sites that are far beyond its conventional geographic delineation yet reveal the imaginative ambits of Bandung.

Naeem Mohaiemen


The Colonel explained Jamahiriya as a ‘state of the masses.’ Perhaps the thirty medical families imported to run Okba Bin Nafa Air Force Hospital were part of those masses as well. The Gurji school was an experiment in socialist cohabitation; Egyptian, Jordanian, Bangladeshi, and Polish students together. Our Arabic teacher was rough, he thought of us as children of a lesser tongue. It was some kind of early lesson in Realpolitik.

(Naeem Mohaiemen)