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Olive and Palmyra: Resistance, Art, & the Archive in Sri Lanka & Palestine

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Another Story Bookshop

315 Roncesvalles Ave

Toronto, ON M6R 2M6

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How do we tell stories of resistance both ethically and effectively? What challenges do writers face when documenting state violence? Who do we write these records for? Where does the story end, the author's responsibilty close, and the subject's life continue?

Join us at 6:30PM on Sept 19 at Another Story Bookshop for the inaugural session of the Sri Lanka Series: "Olive and Palmyra: Resistance, Art, and the Archive in Sri Lanka and Palestine."

This a free event, but space is limited, so please register. There will be snacks.

Journalist Rohini Mohan will join us via video-conference for a reading from her 2014 book, "The Seasons of Trouble: Life Amid the Ruins of Sri Lanka's Civil War," a non-fiction account of ongoing Sri Lankan state abductions and torture of perceived and former Tamil combatants. Copies of the book will be available for sale at the event. Moderator May El-Abdallah will lead a discussion on comparable archival tensions in the context of Palestinian sovereignty struggles.


ABOUT THE BOOK: THE SEASONS OF TROUBLE: LIFE AMID THE RUINS OF SRI LANKA'S CIVIL WAR

For three decades, Sri Lanka’s civil war tore communities apart. In 2009, the Sri Lankan army finally defeated the separatist Tamil Tigers guerrillas in a fierce battle that swept up about 300,000 civilians and killed more than 40,000. More than a million had been displaced by the conflict, and the resilient among them still dared to hope. But the next five years changed everything.

Rohini Mohan’s searing account of three lives caught up in the devastation looks beyond the heroism of wartime survival to reveal the creeping violence of the everyday. When city-bred Sarva is dragged off the streets by state forces, his middle-aged mother, Indra, searches for him through the labyrinthine Sri Lankan bureaucracy. Meanwhile, Mugil, a former child soldier, deserts the Tigers in the thick of war to protect her family.

Having survived, they struggle to live as the Sri Lankan state continues to attack minority Tamils and Muslims, frittering away the era of peace. Sarva flees the country, losing his way – and almost his life – in a bid for asylum. Mugil stays, breaking out of the refugee camp to rebuild her family and an ordinary life in the village she left as a girl. But in her tumultuous world, desires, plans, and people can be snatched away in a moment.

The Seasons of Trouble is a startling, brutal, yet beau­tifully written debut from a prize-winning journal­ist. It is a classic piece of reportage, five years in the making, and a trenchant, compassionate examina­tion of the corrosive effect of conflict on a people.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ROHINI MOHAN

​Rohini Mohan is an Indian journalist who writes on politics, environment and human rights in South Asia. For over a decade, she has written award winning articles for several publications and websites including Al Jazeera, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, The Economic Times, Tehelka, The Caravan, The Hindu, Outlook, The Wire, New Indian Express, and news channel CNN-IBN. She has lived in New Delhi, Chennai and New York, and is now based in Bangalore, India. Rohini has a Masters in political journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, New York, and a PG Diploma in Print Journalism from Asian College of Journalism, Chennai. She speaks four South Asian languages: Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada.


ABOUT THE MODERATOR: MAY EL-ABDALLAH

May El-Abdallah is a (non-practising) lawyer currently working in administrative oversight. Prior to that, May was a civil litigator. May is committed to community-building and has worked with organizations such as Art-reach Toronto, the South Asian Legal Clinic’s Forced Marriage Project, Maytree’s DiverseCity Fellows program, the HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic of Ontario, and AQSAzine. In addition to her duties with the Canadian Association of Muslim Women in Law, May serves on the Executive Committee of the Arab Canadian Lawyers Association.


SUGGESTED BACKGROUND READINGS:
(Arranged alphabetically by title)


ABOUT THE VENUE: ANOTHER STORY BOOKSHOP

Located in Roncesvalles Village in the west end of Toronto, Another Story Bookshop sells a broad range of literature for children, young adults, and adults with a focus on themes of social justice, equity, and diversity. We are a proudly independent bookstore with over thirty years of history and a commitment to providing quality customer service. Our entrance is wheelchair accessible but our bathroom is down a narrow flight of stairs.


ABOUT THE SRI LANKA SERIES

The Sri Lanka Series features activists and scholars based in or around the island, live-streaming into Toronto, Canada for discussions about the possibilities and strategies of leftist mobilizing locally and transnationally. Talks will thereafter be archived in video and transcript format on the Series' website.

From artists documenting displacement to lawyers challenging anti-terror laws, from plantation workers unionizing in the hills to women leading demonstrations for their missing loved ones in the north, join us as we map some of the social justice movements currently unfolding in Sri Lanka.

Primarily designed for post-secondary students, the Series is open to anyone with an interest in contemporary issues in Sri Lanka.


This a free event, but space is limited, so please register. There will be snacks.

For updates on this and future events, please sign up for the Series' low-traffic mailing list.

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315 Roncesvalles Ave

Toronto, ON M6R 2M6

Canada

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