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‘Zoo and the ‘People Shows’: Meeting Points of Ecological Modernity and Colonialism’

Featuring Anuraag Khaund’s creative piece that developed as an original project over his term at the Young India Fellowship


A visit to the Assam State Zoo prompts Anuraag Khaund to research the fascinating – and troubling – history of zoos and people exhibits: linking them to colonial domination and “ecological modernism” which posited the separation of civilised humans over wild nature and of western man over the exoticised Other.



It was a sunny day in February 2018 at the Assam State Zoo-cum-Botanical Garden located in the rising metropolis of Guwahati in North-Eastern India; my classmates and I were there to conduct a study of the flora, fauna, and habitat of the zoo inmates as part of an undergraduate course. While approaching the crocodile enclosure, I was stopped short by a sight which would otherwise seem normal in everyday zoo settings. Despite a board prominently stating “DO NOT FEED AND DISTURB THE ANIMALS”, a visitor was throwing potato chips at a crocodile submerged in the lake and shouting at it to rouse it from its slumber. Two observations struck me: first, the impunity of the visitor despite the warning sign; and second, the fact that such a ferocious creature as the crocodile was being treated like a slave being cajoled to perform before a master. On further contemplation, it struck me that such behaviour on the parts of both the visitor (that of impunity) and the crocodile (of submissiveness and lethargy) would not have been possible if the setting had been outside, or if somehow, the bars separating the visitors and animals were to magically disappear. The visitor would probably cower for his life before the jaws of the crocodile. Throughout the entire episode, my focus remained on the bars, railings or enclosures which allowed human visitors to look down with ‘fearlessness’ upon ferocious beasts which once evoked fear and awe. Within the confines of the zoo, those same beasts appeared like domesticated cattle.

Weren’t the zoo enclosures similar to the cages of erstwhile circuses where, in addition to severe restrictions on freedom, inmates were also tortured and beaten to death for the slightest mistake in performance? Above all, the most important question which came to my mind was: Isn’t the zoo a space where humans dominate over other creatures?

Exploring this question revealed the often hidden and brushed-aside history of zoos: the origin of zoological gardens as manifestations of the ideology of colonialism. The seemingly innocent space where schoolchildren or recreational visitors flock for purposes of education and relaxation is symbolic of a history filled with aspects of power, control, exploitation, and domination.

The link between zoos and colonialism was first highlighted by John Berger, who saw the prominent zoos of the West—such as the London Zoo, the Jardin de Plantes in Paris, and the Berlin Zoo—as bringing prestige to the national capitals of their respective countries which were also the dominant oceanic empires of the time (Berger). Berger does not claim that the human obsession with collecting exotic animals and plants began with the zoo, but instead traces it back to the royal menageries (along with the gilded palaces, orchestras, and acrobats) of prominent ruling houses, where they symbolised the wealth and status of the owner. In a similar manner, zoos symbolised colonial power, where the capture and display of exotic species of animals were a representation of the coloniser’s conquest of native habitats (Berger). On a broader level, the zoological garden was also the manifestation of a new tradition which dominated the modern era: the separation of civilisation (human) and wilderness (animal) that underpinned ecological modernity. 

Ecological Modernity and Colonisation Of Nature

According to Ian Jared Miller, who also coined the term, ‘ecological modernity’ refers to a twin process of intellectual separation (between ‘wise’, ‘rational’ humans and ‘dumb’ animals) and social transformation: the rise of urban industrial cities with nature being confined to the wild outlands or institutions such as the zoological gardens (Miller). The concept of intellectual separation can be traced to the dualism of soul and body proposed by Descartes, whereby the body was subjected to the laws of physics and mechanics, and consequently, animals were viewed as being ‘soulless’ and ‘mechanical’, lacking the capacity to reason and think (Berger). The civilisational qualities of ‘reason’ and ‘intellectual thinking’ enabled humans to construct civilisations and empires, while animals remained trapped in a state of wilderness. The orientation of the zoological garden, as per Miller, was devoted to playing out the separation of ‘wild animals’ from the ‘civilised’ urban visitor, whereby the visitor, on glancing upon the caged animals, was reminded of their own ‘superiority’ and power as compared to the zoo inmates.

The social transformation brought about by zoos can be summed up in the words of Berger who argues that zoos were established at the moment when animals disappeared from daily life (Berger). In other words, with the increasing distance between animals (and nature) and humans brought about by the arrival of industrial modernity, the zoo emerged as a place reminiscent of the erstwhile nature or untouched wilderness where the urban populace could enjoy glimpses of the once virgin nature. The social transformation here, according to Berger, involved the reduction of animals from awe-evoking and mysterious creatures, which inspired early humans, to mechanical units of industrial power or exotic specimens for human pleasure (Berger).

However, a peculiar social feature of the zoo which also emerged in its early establishment, as in the case of the Ueno Zoological Park (Japan), was its function as a site of greenery and solace where the industrial worker or the urban citizen could connect to nature or humanness. This attitude was summed up by the Japanese liberal critic, Hasegawa Nyozekan, who acknowledged that the separation of humans from animals was “something new for the Japanese” and claimed, “the need to reclaim traditional connection to parklands and green spaces” in order to discover “who we really are” (Miller). As per Miller, this constituted one of the ironies of ecological modernity. Although nature was perceived as the antithesis of civilisation, it was also seen as the source of authentic humanness which was getting increasingly alienated in the modern industrial world.

The zoological garden as the site of the separation between civilisation and nature, and also as a space of ‘natural’ solace for urban populations in industrialised societies, had to rely on the colonisation of nature and wilderness which happened at various levels. The production of illusions of nature and the acquisition of exotic species from overseas colonies were two processes which were crucial for setting up zoos in European metropolises. As zoological gardens were established in modern Europe, the business of animal catching flourished: a job which was taken up by war veterans, hunters, and professional catchers (Rothfels). In the early years of this animal trade, the European catcher merely played the role of a collector. They depended primarily on the labour of indigenous populations of the colonies to deliver the quarry demanded in the trading posts accessible to the Europeans (Rothfels). Over time, as the task of catching was taken over by European catchers and hunters, native populations were often used as ‘coolies’ for carrying equipment and captured quarry or were given the more dangerous role of ‘beaters’, which involved luring the prey out for the hunter to kill. In most cases, accounts of such catching expeditions, while focusing on the European hunter and his exploits or the dangers faced by him, also featured anecdotes of the harsh treatment of natives. For instance, Hans Hermann Schomburgk, a professional German ivory hunter and animal catcher for Carl Hagenbeck, while in his search for ‘pygmy hippos’ in Cameroon, is said to have held the chief of a village at gunpoint in order to secure additional carriers for the cargo (Rothfels). In addition, Schomburgk also mentions having to constantly resort to the whip in order to quell open rebellions by the natives or to get them to work. Dominik, another German animal catcher and hunter, mentions signing peace treaties with native villages which required the latter to pay tribute in terms of goods and men, with the captured men being used for carrying the cargo or to be sold in the plantations (Rothfels). The chaining and shooting of native workers to get them to work were considered ‘appropriate’ and ‘normal’ in the larger context of German colonisation and slavery in Cameroon (Rothfels). 

Central to the accounts of hunters and animal catchers were anecdotes that highlighted their bravery and valour in the act of capturing and killing animals. The early accounts of hunters like Dominik and Schomburgk were also filled with explicitly violent and gory details which often accompanied the aftermath of any killing. This unabashed display of violence was often mediated by the fact that, as per Heinrich Leutemann, the catchers were mainly concerned with the capture of living and healthy quarry at any cost, with the means being a trivial issue of little concern (Rothfels). Another norm among animal catchers was to massacre entire herds of adults in order to capture the young and infant members of the population. Hence, stories about Dominik capturing young animals by fencing off herds and shooting the adults one by one, resulting in pools of blood (Rothfels) were seen as the routine collateral of the business. Although it is possible to obtain the desired quarry without having to kill entire herds—a trend which was exemplified by the arrival of professional hunters like Christoph Schulz—in most of the previous cases the massacres or killings happened. In the recollection of his account of the hunt, Dominik mentions having avoided the killing of female elephants as per the ‘laws’ of the huntsman (Rothfels). However, in reality, the first members of the herd to fall before the gun were two female elephants (Rothfels). One can draw analogies between such hunts and the massacres and atrocities committed against native populations in colonial empires; in both cases, there is evidence of unnecessary killing targeted at vulnerable members: female specimens and women and children. In addition, both kinds of massacres had an underlying ‘logic’ of the display of power over natives and nature.

 The second level of colonisation of nature took place within the premises of the zoological gardens. This was the process of producing duplication or the illusion of happiness in the display of the inmates of the zoological gardens. During the early part of the 20th century, there appeared to be an increasing awareness among visitors about the bars, wires or other types of partitions which separated the animals from the human onlookers; hence the zoo-going experience came to be increasingly viewed as artificial or unnatural (Rothfels). This led zoo directors and others to find new ways of resetting the relationship between visitors and the animals on exhibition: separate yet appearing close and intimate. These included the usage of glass and painted enclosures in the Ueno Zoological Park (Miller). Glass offered more intimacy than bars, allowing the viewer to enter directly into the realm of the exhibited animal. The combination of coloured rooms which were painted with imitations of the inmates’ natural habitats and the glass gave the viewer an illusion of viewing the bird or animal in its natural surroundings. However, the most radical shift happened with the Hagenbeck Revolution of the 20th century, which manifested in the Animal Park (Rothfels). The Hagenbeck Revolution, initiated by Carl Hagenbeck who began his career as an animal collector in Germany, was marked by the replacement of bars by enclosures, open moats, and zoo habitats which seemed to mimic the original habitat of the inmates (Rothfels). The separation between visitors and inmates, and between different inmates, was no longer marked conspicuously by iron bars or cages, but instead by moats and artificially constructed hillocks or stone ridges which gave the illusion of animals living in liberty, while being confined to a space at the same time. Over time, the Animal Park came to be associated with the Biblical Garden of Eden and even with Noah’s Ark (Rothfels). The association with Noah’s Ark is an interesting one, as according to Nigel Rothfels, the Animal Park increasingly came to be seen as a place where the animals could find safe haven from the realities of their life in the wild. This notion was also increasingly supported by the new methods of an exhibition where predators and prey such as lions and gazelles were seen not in separate cages or enclosures, but instead cohabited in the same space, although invisibly separated by the artificial ridges or hillocks. In the wild, these species would have been involved in a violent and brutal competition for life and death. Such illusions overturned the functions of zoological gardens from being representatives of nature to replacing wild, violent, and brutal nature. Here again, one can draw analogies with the processes of colonialism.  

As with the illusions of progress and development which were heaped upon conquered regions and native populations, while in reality benefiting no one except the colonising power, the ideas of ‘freedom’ and ‘intimacy’ generated through glass panels and the Animal Park were created to hide the reality of the exploitation of both the inmates—who appeared to be ‘at home’ in the zoo—as well as the consciousness of the visitor, who was made to feel intimacy and connection not only with the inmate, but also its natural habitat (or exotic landscapes) without having to visit the depicted location in reality. Glimmers of the ‘White Man’s Burden’ of ‘modernising’ and ‘civilising’ the ‘savage’ natives could also be seen in the allusion to Noah’s Ark, where animals needed the protection of the zoological garden to be saved from the brutality of nature. 

Ecological Modernity, Colonialism, And ‘People Shows’ 

Another important space where the logic of ecological modernity played out was the ‘people shows’ or ‘exhibits’ organised in zoological gardens, often as travelling and mobile shows. Initially, these ‘people shows’ began as a means of attracting more crowds to the already existing exhibitions of caged animals, especially in the case of Carl Hagenbeck who, upon the advice of a friend and in order to save his failing animal business, brought, along with a herd of reindeers, a family of Laplanders or Sami to attract more visitors (Rothfels). However, the people on display in these shows were members of communities deemed ‘exotic’ and, invariably, ‘savage’: Sami, Laplanders, Pygmies, Nubians, Bella Coola Indians, Bedouins, Ceylonese, Indians, etc. (Rothfels). Of central interest in these ‘people shows’, especially to the emerging disciplines of anthropology, ethnology, etc. was the idea of ‘a people closer to nature’ or of ‘a people frozen in time’ (Rothfels). The idea was that of a community untouched by civilisation or industrial modernisation, which were representative of the ‘primitive’ or ‘ancient’ ways of early humans. The emphasis on ‘ancient’ or ‘primitive’ ways of life was because of the rising interest in ‘prehistory’, supplemented by the ideas of Ernst Haeckel, the German scientist who postulated the ‘biogenetic law’ whereby every individual contained within themselves the history and past experiences of their ancestors (Rothfels). Laplanders were believed to be the closest ‘savage’ relatives of present-day Europeans, and by Haeckel’s law, their lifestyle mimicked that of the earliest ancestors of Europeans (Rothfels). These factors led to the immense popularity of Hagenbeck’s reindeer and Laplander shows where even simple activities such as Laplander adults sharpening and cleaning their tools or women milking the reindeer drew excited cheers from the audience (Rothfels).

In the case of the ‘people shows’, ecological modernity can be said to have played out in the notions of ‘modern’, ‘civilised’ humans (Europeans in general) and the ‘people closer to nature’ (‘savages’). To the idea of ecological modernity, Miller adds the feature of nostalgia for nature which was viewed as the true repository of the human soul in the context of an increasingly alienated urban modern world (Miller). This feeling of nostalgia found expression in the zoological garden where the caged animals represented lost nature, and the same logic played out in the ‘people’s shows’ where the communities exhibited were seen as relics of the prehistoric past or, in some cases such as the Nubians, the missing link between humans and apes (Rothfels). Along with evoking feelings of wilderness and natural nostalgia on the part of Europeans, the ‘people shows’ were also an effect of the project of colonialism. Nigel Rothfels argues that these exhibitions also performed the function of allowing colonial administrators to ‘learn’ about the communities they were about to govern; the ‘people shows’ also increased in popularity at a time when European nations were building colonial empires in Asia, Africa, and other parts of the world (Rothfels 90). ‘People shows’ enabled the collection of anthropological data such as the measurement of cranial length, height of ears, length and breadth of faces, separation between eyes, etc. (Rothfels); such data were used to further the ideas of race sciences and environmental determinism (Rothfels): the cranial difference between Negroid and White races or the environment in which the ‘savages’ lived, and the same environment which determined their cranial and physical features (determinism), did not allow civilisation to develop among such people (Rothfels). This provided the bedrock for the ‘White Man’s Burden’ and justified colonialism.

One must not think that, unlike the bloody and violent acquisition of exotic animals by European collectors, the acquisition of members for ‘people shows’ did not entail the use of violence. The use of force or the intent of usage of force was equally present here. This is evident from the case of Ota Benga, a member of the Pygmy tribe from the Congo Basin in Africa, whose presence at the Bronx Zoological Gardens in 1904 was to spark debates about human exhibits in the USA. The indications of violence or military force can be gleaned from the letters of his captor, Samuel P Verner, who acted as special agent to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company for purchasing of anthropological material from Africa (Newkirk). Verner mentions stopping by London (en route to Africa) to buy ammunition and other hunting material; even before embarking on the journey, he had requested a navy warship or gunboat (Newkirk). This is followed by a line in the letter which states that tribal cooperation would be secured easily as he had stockpiled his ship with enough arms (Newkirk). The case for the use of violence for acquisition could also be made from the return letter by McGee, then president of the American Anthropological Association, who described Verner as being a “law unto yourself”, and expressed confidence “in the competence of the court” (Newkirk), thereby implicitly sanctioning the use of force if necessary, in securing ‘specimens’. A quick glance at the history of colonialism would reveal numerous instances of Gunboat Diplomacy: the use of force (generally in the form of naval power) for securing agreements or imposing the will of colonial powers upon colonies or militarily weaker nations.  

Another feature common to both the acquisition of ‘exotic’ animals and people and colonialism is the hero-making of the hunter/collector and the coloniser. Earlier, I have discussed the trope of the ‘brave hunter in the wild’, exemplified by the tales of Schomburgk, Dominik, and Christoph Schulz. In the case of Schomburgk and Dominik, the emphasis on violence and unruly beasts in their letters to their European clients or interviews with newspapers served to highlight the ‘bravery’ and ‘valour’ of the hunter: ‘heroic’ values which were admired by the wider European public. However, in the case of Schulz, the values espoused in his Catching Big Game for Hagenbeck: Personal Experiences from the African Bush, were of the professional hunter whose accounts focused less on the violence meted out to animals and more upon the setting up of animal farms in German East Africa where species like zebras and giraffes were corralled and taken care of before being transported to Europe (Rothfels 71–2); along with bravery and valour, one can see the picture of a hunter who also cared for animals. As mentioned by Rothfels, the story of Schulz struck a chord with European readers in the early decades of the 20th century, and even with clients who were becoming increasingly critical of the needless bloodshed being perpetrated to capture animals. With both Schomburgk and Schulz, one can observe the hero-making of the hunters despite the fact that both killed or cared for animals only for commercial purposes, and their acts were symbolic of human domination over nature. The fame of heroism was also claimed by adventurers or hunters who collected exhibits for ‘people shows’ or anthropological societies; the image of the heroic adventurer was evident in Verner’s account to newspapers back in the USA where he mentions rescuing Ota Benga from cannibals and enemy captors or the ‘caring’ acquirer who sought Benga’s consent before being shipped to New York (Newkirk). Carl Hagenbeck, whom I mentioned earlier, was applauded not only by the general European public, but also by the German Anthropological and Ethnological Societies for various reasons, such as his contribution to the development of the ‘sciences’, education of the public, and, most importantly, the conservation of ‘exotic’ species whose existence was under threat. This is despite the fact that the Hagenbeck enterprise entailed the massacre and oppression of communities and was born purely out of commercial motives rather than for social goodwill. Similar stories of ‘heroes’ or ‘heroic feats’ abound in the history of colonialism: explorers, generals, statesmen, etc. who braved the odds to keep the flag of their respective mother countries flying in the colonies despite the brutality of the costs and consequences. 


The paper was an attempt to outline the similarities between the processes of colonialism, zoological gardens, and the ‘people shows’. All three depended on perceived dualisms: the White Master versus the Native Slave; Civilisation versus Wilderness; the ‘primitive, closer to nature savage’ versus ‘the modern, industrial rational man’. In addition, these processes provided various justifications for their methods of treating animal and human 176 Zoo and the ‘People Shows’ subjects: colonisation was necessary for bringing ‘savages’ to civilisation; zoological gardens were essential for preserving the remnants of nature and saving animals from harsh nature; and ‘people shows’ were seen as being in the service of sciences like anthropology, ethnology, etc. Finally, all three depended on the creation and propagation of illusions: of development and progress, of freedom of animals and intimacy with nature, and the ideas of ‘people closer to nature who had links with the earliest ancestors of humans’ or, worse, the ‘missing link’ between apes and humans. 

The illusion of intimacy has increased in contemporary zoos which develop the trends set up by the Hagenbeck Revolution, aided by new technology with more illusory power than the earlier moats and artificial rock hills. Zoological gardens have continued to play the role they were originally assigned: to see the animal as an object of exotic curiosity rather than as an individual with the same rights to life and freedom as that of any human individual. Such ideas are manifested in incidents such as the one occurring at the Assam State Zoo described above, where the inmates are expected to be at the beck and call of the ‘master’/visitor. As Berger argues, the inmate of the zoo has been made marginal. Bereft of any social interaction with other members of the species, or other species, the animal has been habituated to respond externally only to the movements of the zookeeper who comes around with food (Berger). Their prevailing conditions of isolation and dependence have made them treat the human visitors around them as illusions or marginal events not worthy of capturing the animal’s interest. The zoo, as summed up by Berger, “can only disappoint” because the animals no longer stare at humans with the central curiosity of their gaze, but rather greet the inmates with disinterested, lethargic looks reminiscent of a being drained of life (Berger). As an extension of Berger’s argument, although the confines have changed from narrow iron cages to surreal savannahs and Arctic landscapes, and the visitor is greeted by sights of running giraffes or performing seals, the animals still merely go through the motions: the satisfied munching on grass or the acrobatics are not expressions of the animals’ joy. At the same time, one shouldn’t neglect the role of zoological gardens in conserving and redeeming from near extinction species such as the pygmy hog; yet the question remains whether the pygmy hog will thrive and live, in the fullest sense of the term, in its natural surroundings or in the artificial recreation of its habitat: whether it needs to be saved in nature or saved from nature?

The ‘people shows’ or exhibits which began as commercial ventures aimed at increasing the income of animal-dealing firms like Hagenbeck’s were the product of racial stereotypes and hierarchies which existed prior to the beginning of such exhibitions. Rothfels traces the origin of the European obsession with ‘exotic’ people to the journeys of Columbus who repeatedly brought back chained Arawaks for the Spanish Crown, or the visits of ‘New World’ chiefs like Pocahontas to 1619 England (Rothfels 87). The appearance of such ‘New World, exotic’ peoples in the European mind and fantasies coincided with or 177 began with the process of colonisation of Africa and the American continents, and the European stereotypes to be associated with such communities were shaped by the accounts left behind by colonisers themselves whose views, in turn, were influenced by the idea of ecological modernity. In turn, it was the same stereotypes which allowed for the flourishing of ‘people shows’ by Hagenbeck; shows that provided easily available ‘specimens’ for anthropological and ethnological societies of Europe and furthered the existing notions of ‘race sciences’ and racial hierarchies, thus legitimising the ‘White Man’s Burden’ and colonialism. Similarly, in the case of the link between zoological gardens and colonialism, as pointed out by Berger, the caged animals, especially ‘exotic’ species such as lions, tigers, elephants, etc., were symbolic of the extent of the colonial empire: the tiger representing the empire’s colonisation of Asia and the lion of Africa. Here, the zoo was seen as serving an important function of educating the European visitor about the colonial achievements of the mother country. In addition, it was also the ‘logic’ of ecological modernity carried forward by colonialism in different parts of the world which aided in the establishment of zoos. This point is highlighted by Miller who traces the establishment of the Ueno Zoological Park in Meiji-era Japan to the popularity of Western colonial notions of civilisation and development (Miller 2); such institutions came to be seen as Japan’s attempts to catch up with West. In retrospect, the ideas of ecological modernity in Japan, or the separation between the human and animal (dobutsu), accompanied by notions of civilisation, were brought to its shores by the arrival of the American fleet of Commodore Matthew Perry who was seen as a colonising power by the Japanese (Miller 1–2); thus, the zoological garden and its underlying ideology were transported to Japan by a Western colonising power. However, it was not only that colonialism aided in the existence of zoos. The reverse happened as well. This can be substantiated again in the case of Japan. The exotic species exhibited in the Ueno Zoological Park such as the wild boar (inonishi), the spotted leopard named Hakko, etc., were displayed as trophies from imperial victories in China and Manchuria, and also served to highlight the bravery of Japanese troops: for instance, the wild boar soldier (inonishi musha) charging like a boar at the enemy lines, or Hakko who served as a military mascot (Miller 81, 86). These animals, as symbols of Japanese military bravery and achievements, were crucial in rallying popular support for Japanese overseas expansion or colonialism into other parts of Asia. In addition, the idea of ‘lost distant green nature’ as the true repository of human nature—ideas propagated by the establishment of Japanese zoological gardens as relics of the ‘lost nature’ (Miller)—also partly justified the process of Japanese expansion. This was made possible by the projection of the colonies as manifestations of the ‘distant, lost green paradise’ (Miller) represented by the zoological gardens which had to be brought under Japanese occupation.

The above examples serve to highlight the similarities and mutual interdependence of ecological modernity, colonialism, and the institutions of zoological gardens and the ‘people shows’. It was 178 Zoo and the ‘People Shows’ the dualist idea of ecological modernity further propagated by colonialism which enabled the establishment and legitimisation of zoological gardens and ‘people shows’. These institutions in turn justified hierarchical race relations and the ideas of exotic nature—ideas which further legitimised colonial rule and also justified and sparked overseas expansion. Returning to the original question of the paper, ‘innocent’ institutions such as zoological gardens or more questionable people exhibitions did not emerge for ‘noble goals’ such as a concern for conservation, public education or advancement of scientific knowledge; rather, they were the meeting point of the ideologies of colonialism and ecological modernity.

About the Author: 

Anuraag Khaund is any run-of-the-mill ordinary fellow from the YIF 2019 batch. Inspired by Ruskin Bond and, later, by the extravaganza of Shashi Tharoor’s speeches, his earliest writing attempts were flowery, bombastic, and “beyond the reach of ordinary folk”, according to his friends. This cost him heavily in his school and undergraduate years. His sojourn with writing took a turn for the better when destiny landed him in front of the Centre for Writing and Communication (CWC) and the selection of the course ‘Political Ecologies’ for Critical Writing Programme. Under the mentorship of his ‘Guru-Preceptor’ Anuraag’s writing underwent the travails of academic odyssey and finally came to terms with ‘writing for all’. His writings mostly reflect his interest in history, ecology and international politics besides reminiscing the frustrations of MLS and everyday life in the form of sadak-chaap (street style) poetry.

About YIF CW Programme:

The YIF Critical Writing programme is a unique, one-of-a-kind opportunity for Fellows to hone their critical thinking and writing skills under the able supervision of trained experts in the field. The CW programme employs a constantly evolving pedagogy, making learning and knowledge production more collaborative and dialogic. Preceptors at the YIF CW programme teach writing through a range of topics including but not limited to ‘History, Philosophy, and Anthropology of Science’, ‘Politics of Language and Multilingualism’, and ‘Education, Literacy, and Justice’. 

About Final Draft:

The Final Draft is the annual journal of the YIF Critical Writing programme. It showcases the range in topic and genre, as well as the strength of writing in the highly diverse YIF student body. These pieces of writing, submitted by Fellows from various classes of the YIF represent only a small fraction of the variety and range of writing done over the years.

About our campaign: 

Through our ‘Final Draft 3’ campaign, we hope to give you a glimpse into some of the styles and voices that have evolved, the concerns and ideas that fellows have explored and the seriousness of their engagement with writing as drafts in motion; searching for meaning and connection, which makes this more of a pedagogic exercise book. 

(The piece was first published in the Final Draft, A Journal of the YIF Critical Writing Programme.)

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