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Voices From The Margins


At a moment when geographies are being altered by virtual networks and interactions, its influence on our consumption of native and foreign cultures is shaping our heritage and identity. In the same virtual space, the youths from neighbourhoods in New Mexico (USA) and New Delhi (India) are collaborating to explore the formations of cultural heritage and cultural identity, understanding the ways in which cultural inheritance plays a role in their individual lives. Voices from the Margins is a community arts initiative by Khoj and Global One to One (USA), supported by World Learning (USA) as a part of their ongoing global project Communities Connecting Heritage, aiming to preserve and promote mutual appreciation of cultural heritage by creating a network of youth representatives from diverse communities using creative forms of expression to tell their stories.


Here in New Delhi, Ashif Khan, Leeda Ferozy, Nagina, Ismail, Suraj Tamoli, Romeo Kiseke, Yanki Lhamu Bhutia and Muzammil are voices from different communities, states and countries sharing excerpts from their life stories, views on current social system and the way it contributes to their existence. These experiences created by conflicting interests of preservation of cultural heritage and establishing unique identities in times that are as multicultural as they are conducive for protectionist reforms, form their views and creative language, also influenced by trends of cultural export from countries across the world.


In the last eight weeks, Khoj has become a safe space for a practice and a community providing an opportunity to imagine a new state as an expression of dissent that the participants are otherwise hesitant to voice in the real domains of their lives. The space has facilitated interactions that are largely non existent and unlikely to take place outside the premises of Khoj. Their own senses of self have compelled the team to question the meaning of margins and its relatability in light of the fact that they have been accorded a minority status based on the socio-economic and ethnic filters used to segregate the country’s population and politics.


While the teams from both cities have different stories, the results of the exploration and the nature of insights gained in every virtual interaction are rooted in similar experiences and values which do not find their expression in narrow interpretations of self preservation and sociality. This is a collective attempt at redefining cultural identity and cultural heritage in the making.


The takeaways and realisations arrived at through the duration of this project will culminate and manifest in a multimedia exhibition in June preceded by the in-person exchange of the team from New Mexico.