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Artworks of Indian origin artist to give insight on lives of British South Asian Women

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New Delhi: The University of Leicester will be seen collaborating with a local artist named Kajal Nisha Patel, to gain insights into the backgrounds of South Asian Women residing in the UK. The decision came after the University received an award from the Leverhulme Trust to host her, as an Artist in Residence for 2016.

A Leicester based photographer and filmmaker, Kajal’s application was sponsored by a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Dr David Bartram. The happiness and well-being of immigrants are the subjects of study which come under Bartram’s expertise.

Since 2006, Kajal has produced work on the British South Asian experience, concentrating on issues of personal conflicts, cultural bereavement, social assimilation and the formation of new identities. Kajal will use the award to continue her artistic work and community engagement, focussing on the everyday lives of British South Asian Women. She is interested in colonial and postcolonial histories of the British Raj, its legacy of Indian economic trade and its impact on the Indian diaspora.

Kajal is also the founder of Lightseekers, a social enterprise that uses photography and storytelling as a platform to learn about and engage with key social issues. This cross-cultural education project delivers workshops to low-income areas, where civic participation and engagement are low and students are likely to experience exclusion and discrimination.

She works closely with Asian women in her community to provide an opportunity for self-representation, through intimate and negotiated dialogue.

Kajal said: “My intention is to invite a deeper engagement and understanding of the issues Asian women face and open up new forms and new interpretations of cultural knowledge. This residency will allow me to critically enhance my ideas. My practice and research will be interdependent and complementary. The resulting work must communicate to the widest possible audience, especially the British South Asian community.”

During the residency, Kajal will produce a series of multidisciplinary artworks to form the basis of a travelling exhibition at various art galleries and community spaces. Members of the Leicester Migration Network will be invited to visit the exhibition; the Network will then host Kajal at a seminar discussion exploring the contribution of artistic representation to the public and scholarly understanding of Asian communities in the UK.

Kajal’s artistic work will prove to be a medium for the University’s Sociology Department in channelling their research to public audiences.

Dr David Bartram said: “Kajal’s artistic work nicely complements research in the department of immigration and diversity in Britain.  We’re very pleased that working with Kajal this year will mean these issues can be presented in a way that integrates scholarship and visual representation.”

The act is implemented keeping in mind the sole aim of paving the way for dialogue to happen between the department and the people being represented in the department’s research on migration. (AlphaGalileo.com)

 

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Hope in Mexican Border Towns, Migrants Wait In Hope Of Rescue

Many migrants have been exposed to violence, said Gordon Finkbeiner of the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, from “organized crime groups that are along the route.

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Migrants from Venezuela, Cuba and Guatemala wait at bridge between Matamoros, Mexico and Brownsville, Texas for immigration officials to allow them to turn themselves in and ask for asylum in U.S., Nov. 12, 2018. VOA

Migrants have arrived in Tijuana and other border cities in caravans of thousands, while others come in small groups of a dozen or so. They have often walked for days through Central America, then ridden buses or gotten rides on trucks through the vast expanses of Mexico. In border cities like Tijuana, they find help in shelters run by charities.

Asylum seeker Angela Escalante is here with her husband and 7-year-old son.

“The situation is very bad, there are no jobs,” she said of her country of Nicaragua, blaming political violence there on President Daniel Ortega. “There’s no security so you can’t safely walk the streets,” she added.

Central American migrants settle in a shelter at the Jesus Martinez stadium in Mexico City, in Mexico City, Jan. 28, 2019.
Central American migrants settle in a shelter at the Jesus Martinez stadium in Mexico City, in Mexico City, Jan. 28, 2019. VOA

Post-traumatic stress

New arrivals say they also face violence from cartels and local drug gangs.

“It was around 14 years ago they killed the brother of my grandfather and a son of my grandfather, and because of this, they are still pursuing us,” said Jorge Alejandro Valencia, 19, from Michoacan state on Mexico’s western coast. He said the criminals later killed his grandfather, and they now are threatening his sister.

Migrants
Survey of Migrants From Mexico. VOA

Many migrants have been exposed to violence, said Gordon Finkbeiner of the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, from “organized crime groups that are along the route. What we see and what we attend to is mostly situations of high levels of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder.”

A 23-year-old Honduran, newly arrived in a shelter, said a gang demanded he sell drugs, and he could see no escape except to leave his country. He asked not be identified, saying that the gangs monitor Facebook and if his identity is revealed, the gang would target his family.

US citizens wait, too

Africans and Haitians, who relocated from their countries to Venezuela, and Central Americans from Central America’s northern triangle of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, all wait in the city’s shelters. Every case is different, and many are complicated.

A woman from Honduras has a 12-year-old son with U.S. citizenship and displays his passport. The boy, named Jimmy, was born in the United States but returned to Honduras with his mother when she was deported.

A middle-aged man named Efren Galindo was born in Mexico and grew up in Texas. Two years ago, he was deported and nearly killed by Mexican drug cartels, he explained as he displayed scars on his back and shoulder.

“I’ve been 46 years, [nearly] my whole life over there,” Galindo said, pointing northward to the United States. “I’m married to an American citizen. I have four American sons, an American daughter and 16 grand babies,” he added.

Credible fear, big backlog

To be granted asylum, petitioners must demonstrate a credible fear of persecution or torture, and show that they are not only fleeing poverty. Those who have been deported from the United States face added restrictions. Many having been barred from returning for five, 10, 20 years or more.

The U.S. immigration system, meanwhile, is overwhelmed, with a backlog worsened by the recent 35 day partial shutdown of the U.S. government in a dispute between Democrats in Congress and U.S. President Donald Trump over a border wall. U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services said in a statement Jan. 21 that it faced “a crisis-level backlog of 311,000” asylum cases that had yet to be interviewed for credible fear.

The backlog of all immigration court cases was more than 800,000 in November, according researchers at Syracuse University.

Many detention facilities that house illegal entrants are temporary, according to Border Patrol Agent Tekae Michael on the border south of San Diego.

“I know ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] is completely overrun,” she said. “We don’t have enough immigration judges to be able to process efficiently and effectively and swiftly.”

Mexico is granting temporary papers to Central Americans, and volunteers from U.S.-based groups like San Diego’s Border Angels bring supplies to the shelters. Mexican businesses are making donations.

Also Read: Mexico to Relocate 120 Central American Migrants

Carlos Yee of the Catholic shelter Casa del Migrante says aid workers like him feel frustrated.

“We don’t have the power to work through this enormous bureaucracy. We only can say to them, be patient,” he said.

The city of San Diego is visible through a border fence, just 30 kilometers north of here, but these migrants in Tijuana face many more hurdles on their journey. Yet, they are still hopeful. (VOA)