You are invited to CHL PhD Candidate Mamta Sachan Kumar's Mid Term Review.
Time: 3pm to 4:30pm AEDT
Date: Friday, 24 November 2023
Speaker: Mamta Sachan Kumar
Venue: Online only via Zoom
Meeting ID: 345 072 5439
Passcode 991 667
Everyone was talking about “the party”. What they were going to wear to the party; who wasn’t invited to the party; how five daughters who live all over the world came together to throw this party for their father’s 80th birthday; how this party was the first town-wide event since COVID… In hushed tones or candidly, from the time that I arrived in Kobe, all I heard about was “the party”.
It was clear what I had to do.
In the sleepy Japanese town of Kobe, there live some Sindhi housewives who once claimed that they do “nothing” all day. They belong to an old diasporic community that is steadily disappearing. As the community shrinks, the housewives’ daily grind of doing “nothing” intensifies, at the heart of which lies the oft-trivialized act of women socialising. But within distinctly Japanese surroundings, the stakes for survival as foreign residents are particularly high. Here, the polysemous ‘social’ is vital for its relentless function in reinforcing structures of intra-communal dependency. This explains the vigour with which social appearances are kept up and a diasporic bubble maintained, only for irony to ensue when strategies for survival end up killing the community.
This is a story about the hyper-social worlds of these women and its powerful, paradoxical impact on the fate of their community.
Mamta Sachan Kumar is a PhD Candidate in Gender Studies at the ANU School of Culture, History & Language within the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific. She is also a graduate of the National University of Singapore, where she earned her Honours and Master’s degrees in sociology.
Mamta's research focuses on the community of her childhood – the Sindhi merchant diaspora in Kobe, Japan, through the everyday lives of housewives. Mamta’s work is an existential journey that explores notions of identity, memory, home and belonging, to make sense of who she is in the world. She approaches her ethnography through a narrative style of writing and storytelling.
Mamta’s latest publications include a poem in Sindhi Tapestry: An Anthology of Reflections on Sindhi Identity and the journal article, ‘Why Do Rich Sindhi Women Need a Kitty Group? Space, Sociality and Status Production among Upper-Class Housewives in Singapore’.