2024 2-Day Conference: Art, Media and the Politics of Visual Practices

This free online event covers a wide range of topics and themes. Don’t miss out on engaging discussions and insights from exceptional speakers! Tickets are available on Eventbrite. Alternatively, click the button below to secure your spot and ensure you don’t miss out!

🗓 Aug 3: Authors Spotlight (4pm-5:40pm BST)
🗓 Aug 4: Role of Artists in Shaping Tamil Identity (10am- 11:40am BST)

Join us for presentations by our authors on their published papers, plus roundtables showcasing new research and discussions on Tamil identity from a diverse group of academics, scholars and professionals.

Tamil Academic Journal Conference Day 1: Presentation of Papers with Q&A

Topic: Presentations of papers being published in 2024 

Date and Timings: 3rd August, 4pm AM UK Time

Format: Online, 1.5 hours – 1 hour of presentations by authors followed by 30 mins of Q&A

Authors and title of papers (biographies can be found below):

Nibarna Kannathasan

Mind the Acculturation Gap: Migration, Acculturation Gaps and Mental Health within the Tamil Diaspora

Dr Arasu Chellaiah

உயிரின ஆறாவது பேரழிவு – காரணமும், காரியமும் மானுடமே!

Translated title: The Sixth Greatest Extinction: Manmade causes and actions  

Shavena Vigneswara Kumar

Rethinking Resilience: Exploring Decolonial Possibilities Of Representing Narratives Of Conflict Affected Women In The North And East Of Sri Lanka

Mayooran Thevarajah

Everyday Emergencies: On Sri Lanka’s Excessive Use Of Emergency Procedure

Vinofa Muthulingam

The Heritage Language Education and Ethnic Identity among the Second-Generation Tamil Immigrants in Canada: Impacts, Issues and Challenges

Ovia Sundar

Caste and Culture in Canadian Multiculturalism: Dismantling Perceived Homogeneity of Tamil Identity

Tamil Academic Journal Conference Day 2: Panel Discussion with Q&A

Topic: The role of artists in shaping Tamil identities 

Date and Timings: 4th August, 10 AM UK Time

Format: Online, 1.5 hours – 1 hour panel discussion followed by 30 mins of Q&A

Speakers (biographies can be found below):

Dr. S. Raguram, Dean, University of Jaffna, Department of Media Studies

Abhi Chinniah, Photographer

Thusiyan Nandakumar, Editor-in-Chief, Tamil Guardian

Theme: Art, Media and the Politics of Visual Practices

The theme chosen for the conference is Art, Media and the Politics of Visual Practices. Through the conference we hope to open up the conversations around how art and media have shaped Tamil identities by aiding narratives of collective community, participating in social and political movements, and inventing and challenging appropriated art forms.

Though deeply embedded in its political context, art and media are valued for their ability to break free from it and question repressive moments and institutions. Instances of abetting and turning art into a tool of propaganda abound. In the process, art and media have been at the centre of shaping identities and communities through their representational and performative roles. 

Through the conference we hope to highlight the intersection of art, media and academia to offer historical analysis and thick contemporary readings of perceptions of the self, society, and culture. Offering fresh insights into how art and media have been embraced, used, and innovated differently. We also aim to look at the equal possibility of the reverse: art and media interrogating societal and political practices. Cumulatively, the journal hopes to offer a landscape of ideas and techniques that connect and retain the specificities of art and media use in various Tamil communities.

Biographies: 

Day 1:

Nibarna Kannathasan

Nibarna (she/her) is an Integrative Psychotherapist and Clinical Lead who works from an integrative approach weaving together transcultural, person-centred, early attachment, existential and narrative lenses. She is interested in cultural identities, intergenerational experiences and the nuanced impact this has on meaning-making and story-telling about our own lives.  She believes in strength-based approaches where cultural and intersectional identities can form a rich foundation to help understand general and trauma-related experiences. She is currently a doctoral student researching the impact of acculturation gaps created within families post-migration from Sri Lanka through the Tree of Life, a trauma-informed and narrative therapy-based creative methodology.

Shavena Vigneswara Kumar

Shavena is a PhD researcher within the Race Xchange research cluster across Coventry University and University of Warwick. Her research focuses on the alternative spaces of history and heritage education diaspora communities create for themselves and the types of knowledge centred in these spaces. The project draws and expands upon community organising she’s been a part of both within the Tamil community and more broadly. She co-convenes Resistance Is Our Mother Tongue, a youth collective with its roots in East London engaged with exploring what social change can look like for communities and leads on outreach at Abuse Never Becomes Us UK.

Mayooran Thevarajah

Mayooran Thevarajah is a passionate human rights advocate with particular interest in the plight of Eelam Tamils and those with disabilities. Having completed his Bachelor of Laws at the University of Sussex, he was called to the Bar of Ontario in June 2024. Mayooran was a Researcher on the Advocacy Team at People for Equality & Relief in Lanka and is currently a Legal Affairs Assistant at Tamil Rights Group. He has also held several legal support roles across the US, UK, and GTA. Mayooran also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of British Columbia and a law clerk diploma from Seneca College.

Vinofa Muthulingam

Vinofa Muthulingam (she/her) is a recent graduate of Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) with a Master of Arts in Immigration and Settlement Studies. While much of her research throughout her academic career has focused on issues relating to second-generation immigrants and the Tamil community, she has also worked on topics such as the relationship between geographic settlement, social capital, and immigrant political inclusion and participation in the Toronto Tamil community, healthcare barriers faced by South Asian immigrant women, refugee mental health, and more. She is currently an Integration Program Officer with Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, working together with non-profit and community organizations that provide settlement services to newcomers.

Ovia Sundar

Ovia Sundar is an undergraduate at the University of Chicago studying political science and economics. Her research interests in integration, multiculturalism, and caste are informed by her lived experiences growing up as an active member of the Tamil community. As an aspiring lawyer, she has worked at several community legal organizations, working on projects ensuring access to local democracy, organizing public debates on local election legislation, and presenting anti-caste legislation opportunities to representatives. Interested in public policy, she also served on the 2023-24 Illinois State Board of Education Student Advisory Council, submitting a policy proposal on mental health curriculum implementation across state schools with her peers. She is currently conducting an independent research study on the influence of caste on the perception and practice of first-generation Bharatanatyam dance students in the Chicagoland area.

Day 2:

S. Raguram

Dr. S. Raguram is a Professor in Media Studies and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Jaffna. Earlier, he served as the Head of the Department of the Department of Media Studies at the University of Jaffna, Head of the Department of Languages and Communication Studies and the Dean of the Faculty of Communication and Business Studies, and Acting Rector of  the Trincomalee Campus, Eastern University, Sri Lanka.

Raguram is a Commonwealth Fellow, obtained his PhD from Gandhigram Rural University, India in the field of Development Communication and Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication, and he was the University Rank holder and Gold Medallist at Loyola College, affiliated to the University of Madras, India for his outstanding academic performance in under graduation, B.Sc. in Visual Communication.

Before entering into academic life he was a versatile journalist holding key positions in print and electronic media for ten years: News Editor of ‘Eezhanatham’ Tamil Daily and ‘Thinakathir’ Daily from Batticaloa, Executive Producer at Maharajah Television, Chief Editor of ‘Namathu Eezhanadu’ and Editor of ‘Yarzh Thinakkural’. Further, he was an IEC (Information, Education, and Communication) Specialist in the Asian Bank-funded North East Coastal Community Development Project (NECCDEP) for a considerable period.

In addition to the academic position, Raguram is currently working as a consultant and a resource person in many areas of his specialization and holding membership at various national and regional level committees in media and communication with his participation in research and studies related to regional and national development. 

Abhi Chinniah

Abhi Chinniah is a self-taught portrait photographer and sometimes writer. Born in Ōtautahi Christchurch to Sri Lankan Tamil Malaysian parents, Abhi grew up in East Coast Malaysia and now lives in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Drawing from her lived experiences, Abhi uses portraiture to elevate marginalised voices. Her debut photographic series, ‘Light Skin Dark Skin,’ explored the journeys people have to take because of the colour of their skin. Her subsequent photo essay, ‘A Migrant’s Path,’ followed the stories of migrant groups in Aotearoa and how these groups seek out belonging when separated from their roots. ‘Light Skin Dark Skin’ and ‘A Migrant’s Path’ went on to be acquired by The National Library of New Zealand.

Her widely acclaimed photo essay, ‘Melanin Rising,’ used portraits, essays, and interviews to explore skin-lightening practices and media representations of dark-skinned people. Abhi currently resides in Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland. Find Abhi on Instagram @ramiistudio

Thusiyan Nandakumar

Dr Thusiyan Nandakumar has been an editor at the Tamil Guardian since 2011, a news website reporting on current affairs in Sri Lanka and internationally. He works closely with Tamil journalists on the island and has facilitated workshops in Jaffna on investigative journalism. He is a regular commentator on politics in Sri Lanka, having appeared on the BBC, CBC, TRT and other media outlets around the world. He has also contributed pieces for the Polis Project, The National, The Diplomat, The Wire, and MedAct. He authored a chapter in ‘Digital Technology and Journalism: An International Comparative Perspective’, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2017. He is currently a medical doctor in London, UK and guest lectures on the intersection of conflict and health at Imperial College London.