Jahnabi Mitra, India
In 2019, when India was protesting against CAA, only one voice that went unheard was the voice of Bengali Hindus from Assam. Prior to the CAA, the National Register of Citizens’ official work was continuing in Assam in silence for years without much reportage.
I present this project as a Bengali Hindu woman born and raised in Assam. This honest declaration of mine opens up diverse possibilities of interpretation, especially the one that reinforces the dichotomy of “us” and “them”. Without being discouraged by the contingency of augmenting the clandestine social phenomena of ‘migration’ that I am attempting to analyse, I try to categorize the representation of the ethnic other. Therefore, I position myself as an ethnic other.
Geographic location and linear time is a common denominator that creates circumstances where the need for establishment of authentic identity for the “ethnic other” rises. The photographs in the project are "rejects" from an old family album. The superimposition of screenshots on the archival photographs is my way of representing the collective chaos faced by the ethnic others.
The initial few photographs have been layered by my family’s legacy documents and the latter are results from Facebook search or even a quick Google search. The screenshots also bring to forefront the history and testimony of the term “Bongal”. Although rich sources are available on the same, I chose Google images as a metaphor for people’s neglect to the issues.
Memory Box is a glimpse into what otherization feels like.
Jahnabi Mitra is a psychologist and an independent researcher. She is currently working as a faculty member of the Department of Psychology, Royal Global University. When not teaching, she dabbles into photography and writing. Her photographs have been represented in Through Her Lens: Reframing the Domestic by Zubaan Books Pvt. Ltd. in collaboration The Sasakawa Peace Research Foundation and her writings have been published by Kitaab International, Café Dissensus and GPlus.