This interdisciplinary project in creative arts investigates the shared cultural history of the people of Wales and the Khasi people of North-east India. This shared history spans 170 years, from the arrival of the Welsh missionaries in the Khasi Hills in the 1840s, to the removal of all foreign missionaries from India in 1967, and beyond, resulting in a complex body of intercultural material. The project uses creative arts practice, namely performance and film, to construct a ‘cultural dialogue’ between Welsh and Indian scholar-practitioners, one that investigates and responds to our historical relationship.
The project staff are Professor Lisa Lewis, University of South Wales; Dr Aparna Sharma, University of California Los Angeles; Dr Helen Davies, University of South Wales; with special consultant Professor Desmond Kharmawphlang, North Eastern Hill University, Shillong, India; and Gareth Bonello, PhD student, University of South Wales (funded by Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol and Faculty of Creative Industries, University of South Wales).
The Welsh-Khasi inter-cultural relationship is rooted in the missionary contact established in the mid-nineteenth century by the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist mission in the Khasi Hills, and the cultural processes that are a consequence of this interaction. Until the mission movement in this region came to an end in 1969 its representatives undertook extensive cultural production based on exchange with the local community, leaving behind a rich and complex body of literature and performance. Such materials include letters, hymns and folk-songs, religious writing, diaries, magazines, travel writing and films, photography, and poetry, most of it scattered between official and unofficial archives in north east India and Wales. This background provides the context for the construction of a series of ‘cultural dialogues’ conducted through creative arts practice, that provide spaces to investigate and respond to a series of research objectives.