13th Gwangju Biennale — Minds Rising Spirits Tuning

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From Farmers’ Protests to Communal Archives

By P. Sainath

From Farmers’ Protests to Communal Archives

P. Sainath

January 28, 2021
9-11am CET / 5-7pm KST

The job of journalists reporting on agrarian and rural affairs in recent months has become more vital than ever: firstly when at the outbreak of the pandemic thousands of distressed migrant workers were forced to walk for weeks from cities to villages, and then soon after, as farmers from several states in India have marched to Delhi to protest new laws that favor agribusiness corporations and threaten the livelihoods of many all over the country. In this workshop P. Sainath will highlight the importance of reporting and archiving stories and records from rural India, promoting counter-narratives to mainstream media channels and broadening the civic mandate in times of rising authoritarianism and censorship. Sainath’s experience as a reporter and founder of the People’s Archive of Rural India is paradigmatic of the pivotal role of independent journalists to counter state propaganda and the structural biases of the media establishment. In search for alternative strategies to resist corporate extractivism, State-promoted ethnonationalism, and the privatization of resources, we will consider a spectrum of approaches, from reportage and photo-journalism to innovative archival practices, such as Foot Soldiers of Freedom, commemorating the legacy of Indian freedom fighters, as well as the The Grindmill Songs Project (with Namita Waikar), preserving and disseminating the collective poetry and oral culture of village communities led by women.


P. Sainath is the Founder Editor of the People’s Archive of Rural India. PARI aims to address the complete failure of the corporate media to cover two-thirds of the country’s population. Sainath, former Rural Affairs Editor of The Hindu, writer and journalism teacher, has reported for decades on farmers suicides, Indigenous rights, agrarian resistance and rural livelihoods.