Thursday, September 27, 2012

A dialogue between Indian and Danish writers in Copenhagen

Three Indian writers met and dialogued with three Danish writers last Monday, Sept. 24, in Copenhagen, in a program titled "The contemporary role of literature in India and Denmark."

Mridula Garg, Githa Hariharan and Manu Joseph were in Denmark to participate in the literary events series "India: Literature Now - Writers' Exchange" organized by the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University and Gyldendal Publishers. The writers Carsten Jensen, Astrid Saalbach and Kirsten Thorup are all based in Denmark.

Hariharan and Joseph write in English, Garg in Hindi, though her work has been translated into English. Jensen, Saalbach and Thorup write in Danish.

The panel discussion, chaired by Vera Alexander of the University of Copenhagen, grouped the writers into pairs, each pair asked to respond to a series of questions. Eventually, the discussion became more freewheeling -- commonalities discovered, disparate views aired, and some of the deep-seated tensions that attend a writer's position relative to ethics, to colleagues and to the market, vaulting up as well.

The experience of having these six different individuals responding to one another at that very moment and in that same space, is something that will not happen again, so I’m sharing it with readers of this blog, and hopefully it will find an audience in those interested in literature as a whole. As many brilliant things were said, my coverage of that afternoon will as much as possible be in the writers' own words, as per my transcription, and will be in the three posts that follow this one. - L. Sitoy

From left: Manu Joseph, Carsten Jensen, Mridula Garg, Kirsten Thorup, Astrid Saalbach, Githa Hariharan. 

 Johannes Riis, director of Gyldendal (top)
and Peter Andersen of the Center of Global South-Asian Studies, University of Copenhagen


To come:
*Githa Hariharan and Astrid Saalback
* Mridula Garg and Kirsten Thorup
* Manu Joseph and Carsten Jensen
* Free discussion and open forum
* ALOA sponsored program: Mridula Garg, Githa Hariharan and Manu Joseph talk about their work at Trankebar bookshop in Copenhagen
* Author biodata






Saturday, September 22, 2012

A study process description (Cultural Encounters at Roskilde University)

At Roskilde University, students enrolled in the Cultural Encounters M.A. program are required to send in what is known as a studieforløbsbeskrivelse (study process description) at the end of each semester. There's no set format for the study process description, nor does the language have to be particularly academic, but it does have to indicate what you read over the semester, and what you learned relative to the five governing angles of the program. In addition, it must be approved by the supervisor of whatever project you undertook during the term; in the final term, that will be the supervisor of your thesis.

At RUC's Cultural Encounters, an MA student must show that she has effectively worked with all five of these governing angles by the end of her studies, so an important aspect of the study process description is the choice of which angle/s to apply for in a semester. The student must then provide enough material to support that application.

Through the study process description, the student reflects on what she has learned so far, and fits it into the larger pattern of her studies, including work she did for her bachelor's degree, and even her life. It's also a great way of keeping track of what one has read (or needs to re-read, or hasn't read, or is supposed to have read). And the very act of summing it up and committing it to writing imprints it on the brain, so that (hopefully) one need never stand slack-jawed at a cocktail party when asked, "Sooooo, what did they teach you at university?"

Here's how I answered that question in the last study process description I sent in, albeit with considerably more time than one gets at a cocktail party:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

M.A. in English and Cultural Encounters from Roskilde University

We came back from a trip to find a beautiful sheaf of papers in the mail.

There was a letter of congratulations signed by the rector Ib Poulsen, my diploma, my transcript, a profile of my competencies (general for all RUC students, and specific to my two areas of study), and a supplement that serves as guide to the Danish university system.

So now it's official. I have an M.A. in Engelsk og Kultur- og sprogmødestudier (English and Cultural Encounters) from Roskilde University, Denmark. And I have the proof!

These are images of the list of competencies attending both areas of study in the M.A. program.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Demonstration in front of U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen

As the Unitarisk Kirke's service ended earlier today, we became aware of a voice over a megaphone farther down the street. The Unitarian Church is a few buildings down from the American embassy; across the street the protesters were massed. At issue was the film critical of Islam that has sparked demonstrations and violence around the world.
This rally was organized by Hizb ut-Tahrir, a group known in Denmark for its extremism.

I couldn't understand what was being said over the megaphone (the language wasn't Danish by the way), but one of those placards held aloft says, in English: "Freedom of expression is a means of repression." What the pictures don't show is the movement of the crowd ... men, women and children of all ages and diverse dress calming walking over and ducking under the striped tape to join the rally; none of them "ethnic Danes," however. The crowd grew to 1,000 in the course of the hour, radio reports said later. Those men in hazard vests are part of the organizing group, not police. 
That's the embassy in the picture below, with the police cars neatly lined up at an angle in front of it. There was no visible riot gear, no shields, no obvious display of firearms, just the police standing in their sky-blue shirt sleeves next to their vehicles, while the crowd chanted and a man called out a long harangue over the sound system.  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Over the Carpathian Mountains

Over the Carpathian Mountains, flying from Cluj to Bucharest in a Tarom propeller plane.

Here's a street crossing at the southern end of Bucharest.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

2007 Interview published in People Magazine (Philippine edition)

Blast from the past. Here's an interview I did by email with Samantha Echavez, which appeared in the February 2007 issue of People Magazine (Philippine edition). That's Dayanara Torres on the cover. - Lakambini Sitoy