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The Art of Freedom The Life and Legacy of Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay


Mar 08 2024 to Mar 08 2024 7 p.m.



Bangalore International Centre

7 4th Main Rd, Stage 2, Domlur 560071

Event Description

A pathbreaking champion of women’s rights, fearless anticolonial activist, fierce critic of racism and class inequality, and tireless advocate for the arts and crafts, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay rebelled against injustice in all forms. In a new biography, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay: The Art of Freedom (HarperCollins 2024), Nico Slate showcases new archival materials to document Kamaladevi’s campaign to become the first woman elected to provincial office; her confrontation with Gandhi that helped open the salt satyagraha of 1930 to women; her leadership of the All India Women’s Conference and the Congress Socialist Party; her pioneering work with refugees during the Partition of India in 1947; her long-standing solidarity with African American struggles; the major impact she had on the arts and crafts in postcolonial India; and her own career on the stage and screen. Slate also draws upon underexplored details from her personal life, providing new context for her experiences as a child widow, her remarriage to the mercurial actor/poet Harin Chattopadhyay, and her divorce (among the first civil divorces in modern India). Taken as a whole, Kamaladevi’s life offers a uniquely revealing vantage point on the making of modern India—a vantage point that centers the interconnections between struggles often seen as distinct, and that reminds us of the full promise of Indian democracy. A talk by historian Nico Slate, introduced by Ramachandra Guha, will be followed by a Q&A session with the audience. Speakers Nico Slate Author & Historian Nico Slate is Professor in the Department of History at Carnegie Mellon University. His research examines struggles against racism and imperialism in the United States and India. His most recent books are The Art of Freedom: Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay and the Making of Modern India (HarperCollins India and The University of Pittsburgh Press, forthcoming in 2024) and Brothers: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Race (Temple University Press, 2023). He is also the author of Colored Cosmopolitanism: The Shared Struggle for Freedom in the United States and India (Harvard University Press, 2012); The Prism of Race: W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson and the Colored World of Cedric Dover (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014); Gandhi’s Search for the Perfect Diet: Eating With the World In Mind (University of Washington Press, 2019); and Lord Cornwallis Is Dead: The Struggle for Democracy in the United States and India (Harvard University Press, 2019). He is also the editor of Black Power Beyond Borders (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), and co-editor of India in the World: 1500-Present, edited by Rajeshwari Dutt and Nico Slate (Routledge, 2023) and The United States and South Asia from the Age of Empire to Decolonization: A History of Entanglements edited by Harald Fischer-Tiné and Nico Slate (Leiden University Press, 2022). Nico is also the co-founder and faculty director of LEAP, a program for low-income high school students in Pittsburgh who are interested in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Ramachandra Guha Author & Historian Ramachandra Guha’s many books include an environmental history, The Unquiet Woods; a history of his country, India After Gandhi; and a biography of Mahatma Gandhi, both volumes of which were chosen by the New York Times as a Notable Book of the Year. Having previously taught at Stanford, the Indian Institute of Science, and the London School of Economics, he is currently Distinguished University Professor at Krea University. Guha’s awards include the Leopold-Hidy Prize of the American Society of Environmental History, the Howard Milton Award of the British Society for Sports History, and the Fukuoka Prize for contributions to Asian culture. He is the recipient of an honorary doctorate in the humanities from Yale University.

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