Sireesha Telugu, Assistant Professor at the Department of English, School of Humanities, was invited to deliver a keynote address at the 2023 GMHC and T2M Annual Conference co-hosted by the Academy of Mobility Humanities (Konkuk University) and the International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility (T2M) for the 2023 Global Mobility Humanities Conference (GMHC) and Annual Conference of the International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility (T2M)
She delivered her keynote on the “Aesthetics and Ethics of Displacement: Refugees and Repatriates.”
Sireesha talked about how the Diasporas are formed by the gradual agglomeration of immigrants, i.e., regular migration on the one hand and the expulsion of huge masses on the other. While the former is often viewed as a voluntary movement, the latter resulted from forced dispersal. One of the defining characteristics of migration – voluntary or forced – is that of displacement. Displacement for some is political, rooted in violent processes of state formation, including partition and militarization, while for others, it is ecological, resulting in droughts, hurricanes, and even environmental degradation. The aesthetics of migration and trauma are recurring themes in the deracinated Diaspora. An epistemological and political examination of human mobility provides a moral insight into understanding displacement and resettlement.
In her address she referred to the witness of two major displacements during the partition of British India: first, cross migration of Indians into divided two-nation states, and second, repatriation of the Burmese-Indians to independent India. While partition narratives explore the trauma of relocation, the experiential tales of the repatriates express their trepidation of social exclusion from their native land. Some essential questions were raised studying the refugees and repatriates: What are political and social displacements? What kind of psychological effect does it have on the minds of the Diaspora? How do displaced people renegotiate themselves in a newly relocated land/location? How do the aesthetics of displacement correlate to the ethics of migration policies? The socio-political state of the encamped repatriates/refugees is significant because camps represent the displaced people. This study focused on the encampments of the refugees as represented in Partition literature and Burmese-Indian repatriate interviews to comprehend the identity construction of the Diaspora.