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Mollywood at the Borderlands: A Song of South Indian Solidarity with Latinidad


Event Summary

Kaley Mason
Assistant Professor of Music, Lewis & Clark College

The people of Southwestern India have experienced widespread economic emigration since the Malayalam-speaking state of Kerala was formed in 1956. After electing India’s first communist government in 1957, Kerala’s strong unions discouraged investment in industry, which prompted many workers to seek economic opportunities abroad. As a result, nearly every family has an archive of stories about migration and encounter, themes that have figured prominently in the region’s film industry, Mollywood. Until recently, the cinema focused on migration to the Middle East, but the 2017 film Comrade in America portrays a young Indian communist leader who travels to Nicaragua to join others on a journey to the Mexico-US border. Drawing on conversations with the filmmakers, this paper examined the repurposing of a popular communist anthem to express solidarity with asylum seekers and refugees against the backdrop of the Trump Administration’s anti-immigration policies.

This event was co-sponsored by EthNoise!, the Music, Language, and Culture Workshop.

Sonic and Visual Histories of the Indian Ocean World

According to the 12th-century BCE Rig Veda, sound and image were shaped from the materials of the earth and woven across the cosmos like the sounds and patterns of the weaver’s shuttle. In this cosmic image, the generative force that forms the intelligible world transforms what is invisible into that which is material, and back again, by turns weaving and unraveling the world. This series of conversations, sponsored by the Interwoven project at the Neubauer Collegium, explored case studies from several religious-cultural traditions as methodologies upon which to find an understanding of the dynamic acoustic and visual cultures that define the region of South Asia and the Indian Ocean across the longue durée.