An exhibition at the University of Leicester which focuses on the histories and cultures of South Asian migrants, has led to the establishment of a new Centre in India.
The exhibition called ‘Migration Stories: South Asian Histories and Cultures’ is at the University’s School of Museum Studies and Centre for Urban History and is sponsored by the British Council.
The cities of Baroda in Gujarat, India, and Leicester are two cities united by a story of migration, which has brought together the two universities in a collaboration to explore their common histories.
The collaborations between the University of Leicester and M S University Baroda will lead to the establishment of a Centre for Urban Studies in the Indian university.
Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor, International, Professor Martin Halliwell said, “The theme of this event – South Asian migration and diaspora – is of great significance for understanding the complex and historically evolving relationship between the Indian subcontinent and the wider world. Specifically, this project brings together scholars from two distinguished universities – MS University, Baroda and the University of Leicester – and seeks to extend a dialogue on this theme, which began last year when we held an event on urban development in India.
“The event focuses on the complex histories and cultures of South Asian migrants told through screenings, objects and discussion and will therefore speak directly the lived experience of many people living in Leicester and the Midlands.
“Migration Stories is part of a broader project with MSU to help them to establish a Centre for Urban Studies which will twin with Leicester’s Centre for Urban History and act as a unique resource for understanding one of the most pressing concerns of twenty-first-century South Asia: the consequences of urbanisation.
“The visit from MSU will enable us to further discussions on two research projects – on urban development and on metabolic diseases – which we are triangulating with university partners in the United States. The delegation will be in discussion with staff at the University of Leicester’s Diabetes Research Centre this week.”
Professor Sharad Bansal, Director of International Affairs at MSU said: “The MS University of Baroda and the University of Leicester enjoy a very active academic partnership. In a short span of less than two years, scholars from a range of departments at both universities have initiated very fruitful intellectual conversations. MSU Baroda is committed to set up the Centre for Urban Studies in collaboration with the University of Leicester, and the approvals for setting up the Centre are at a very advanced level.”
Dr Prashant Kidambi, from the Centre for Urban History and the current International Director for the College of Arts, Humanities and Law at Leicester, said the University and city of Leicester were ideally placed to engage in this project: “Contemporary Leicester is fascinating for the extraordinary diversity of its population. In particular, the city is home to many migrants from South Asia. Their presence has made the city truly multicultural. In that sense, it is an obvious choice to think about the theme of South Asian migration and diasporas within the context of an evolving urban environment.
“The University of Leicester has a rich tradition of engaging with this subject. Its world renowned departments of English, History, Sociology, Museum Studies and Geography – among others – have long engaged with the themes that form the focus of this workshop. This project builds on that expertise and seeks to take it forward in a creative and comparative fashion.
“The project is interesting for its content and the range of participants, bringing together scholars from Leicester and Baroda working on the theme of South Asian migration and diasporas in different disciplines and thereby seeks to foster an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas.
“The event will include a programme of screenings on the South Asian diaspora presented by James Patterson, Director of the Media Archive for Central England and Colin Hyde, the Outreach Officer of the East Midlands Oral History Archive on the afternoon of Wednesday 3 March, as well as a reception and a guided tour of the 100 Migration Stories Exhibition which has been curated thematically to reflect the different experiences of migration.”