You are invited to CHL PhD Candidate Mamta Sachan Kumar's Mid Term Review:

The Remembered Village

Time: 3pm to 4:30pm AEDT
Date: Friday, 23 February 2024
Speaker: Mamta Sachan Kumar
Venue: Seminar Room E, HC Coombs Building, &Online via
Meeting ID: 345 072 5439
Passcode: 991 667

There is a whole world beyond the tunnels of Shin Kobe station that I never knew exists! In my world, Kobe stretched across a pair of perpendicular streets plainly marked by our home on one end and the neighbourhood Lawson’s on the other. I’ve long held this memory of my pudgy cheeks stealing upslope to cross the shingō, with a couple of 100-yen coins pressed into my tiny, sweaty palm. I clutched them for dear life, energized by Peko-chan’s ballooned face plastered on the red packs of milky candy – my favourite! But how could I have run out on my own that young when we migrated when I was just five?

I am a spy. Aunty said so. No, she proclaimed so, to everyone at our lunch table. I flinched. Her allegation zapped me right back to the reality of where I was. It didn’t matter that my silence was a withdrawal to cope with the noise and scale of the social that besieged my introverted self. I couldn’t possibly announce that I was falling asleep! I had little control over how I was being perceived, less so over how my misconstrued manner was being received around the table. I was going to have to work doubly hard at not being me, but no matter how hard I tried, it seemed I couldn’t escape myself. I was stuck with me.  

The second instalment of my six-storied thesis reflects on the epistemology of knowing. ‘The Remembered Village’ unravels the underbelly of fieldwork and details my painstaking rediscovery of a community I believed to be known to me and my own.  The discordant vignettes exemplify the ruptures that I experienced between the highly romanticized Kobe of my childhood imaginary and the unpleasant truths I endured as my adult, researcher self during my time in the field. I navigated multiple identities with a fluidity that often slipped right through me and I realized quickly, that even as a former resident of this town, I would have to earn my access to the lives of family friends at my own expense. For I was a regular misfit in the social circles of this diasporic community of Sindhi housewives. My interests and views often ran counter to theirs and yet there I was, on a quest to figure out my place in the world through their notions of home, belonging and identity.

Speaker Bio

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. Her research explores diasporic identities through the community of her childhood – the Sindhi merchant diaspora in Kobe, Japan, with a focus on the everyday lives and roles of housewives. Mamta’s work is an existential journey that probes ideas of memory, home and belonging, to make sense of who she is in the world. She approaches her ethnography through storytelling and poetry. Her latest publications include a poem titled, Fries for Friendship and the Untoward Nature of Identity in, Sindhi Tapestry: An Anthology of Reflections on Sindhi Identity and the article, Why Do Rich Sindhi Women Need a Kitty Group? Space, Sociality and Status Production among Upper-Class Housewives in Singapore’, featured in South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies.

Event Speakers

Mamta Sachan Kumar

CHL PhD Candidate Mamta Sachan Kumar

Mamta Sachan Kumar's research explores diasporic identities through the community of her childhood – the Sindhi merchant diaspora in Kobe, Japan, with a focus on the everyday lives and roles of housewives.

Event details

Event date

Fri, 23 Feb 2024, 3 - 4:30pm



Event speakers

CHL PhD Candidate Mamta Sachan Kumar