TOUGH TALK argues the questions that are all too real in South Asia but refuse to be discussed, and asks the answers.


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Racism in South Asia is seen, even by the very highly educated, as something that 'white' people do to non-white others. It is in fair measure an inheritance of its colonial past where exclusionary power and attendant discrimination merged and emerged in the person of the white 'coloniser'. This historical consciousness is abetted by post-colonial experiences of the South Asian diaspora around the globe where they are, most often, aspirational economic migrants who, while performing to 'model' standards, experience everyday, institutional, and/or eventful racism, tales that travel back home to reaffirm the image of the 'white' racist.

This narrative has its own truths, but what marks it is its astonishing unreflexivity, a near-complete lack of acknowledgement of the several colourist, ethnic, religious, economic, and other forms of segregationist and endogamous practices that mark the everyday life of South Asians in the region and across the world in their thoughts, ideas, and practices.


Date/Time: Wednesday, 30 September, 3-5:00pm UK time

Speakers: Gurpreet Kaur (Jasmine Morris) (@turbandexplorer) is a writer and young activist who advocates for multicultural inclusion within the Sikh community; Jalila Haider (@Advjalila) is the first woman from the Hazara community in Quetta (Balochistan) in Pakistan to become a lawyer. She is founder of ‘We the Humans — Pakistan’, was included in BBC’s ‘100 Women’ in 2019, and chosen as an ‘International Woman of Courage’ by the US Department of State in 2020; Hsu Yadanar Htun is one of the organisers of the 'Don’t Call Me K Word' campaign, and a feminist advocate in Rangoon, Myanmar; Nirosha Kulasekara is a Student Counselor at the University of Colombo, and has worked closely with Sri Lankan Africans for several years, including being a translator for the community at academic events; Malini Ranganathan (@maliniranga) is Associate Professor, School of International Service, and is Interim Faculty Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center, American University, Washington D.C.; Ngurang Reena (@NgurangReena) is a first-generation researcher, writer and activist from Arunachal Pradesh in North-East India, and is currently a PhD scholar at the Centre for European Studies, JNU, New Delhi; Hurmat Ali Shah (@iconcoclastary) is a Pashtun from Pakistan, until recently Post-doctoral Research Fellow at Ryerson University, Toronto. His profile on LinkedIn says that Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan guided him to have a sense of identity, and Walter Benjamin mentors him from his grave; Beheroze F Shroff (@beheroze) is Lecturer in Asian American Studies, University of California, Irvine, and her research focuses on the Sidi community in India.

Chair: Nilanjan Sarkar is Deputy Director, LSE South Asia Centre.