Syma Tariq

PhD Student

2018 – present

Syma Tariq is a radio journalist, writer and editor who arrived to PhD research after producing the South Asia-focused radio-art project A Thousand Channels*. She has long had an interest in sound and its relation to politics.

Syma holds a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Contemporary History from Queen Mary University of London and a Masters in the History of Political Thought from the University of Sussex. She is a recipient of an AHRC TECHNE award.

*Commissioned for the Ancestors public programme as part of the 16th Venice Biennale exhibition My East is Your West, curated by Natasha Ginwala

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Listening across history: India’s partition(s) and colonial subjectivities within the oral archive

How far do colonial subjectivities pervade the oral archives of the partitioned Indian subcontinent? Can ‘decolonial’ strategies of listening impact the production of such archives?

This research aims to interrogate the diverse oral historical practices that frame British India’s partitioning by listening and attending to their archival constructions. My investigation into this “artefactualisation” of voices seeks to reveal whether a colonial politics of subjectivisation pervades their making, characterising the ways in which certain voices are selected, recorded, presented and curated. I intend to articulate the possibilities of a ‘decolonial’ listening to the post-partition oral archive – an important seat of knowledge and site of historical value embedded with its own specific politics and processes of material reproduction.

Voice has become central to the making of partition history. My research therefore aims to refocus on partition according to its sonic traces, underpinned by philosophies of listening within sound studies, radical and feminist pedagogy and decolonial approaches, methods and tools that reframe the colonial archive and sociological histories of the subcontinent. My fieldwork aims to promote critical linkages between diverse archival practices, while allowing for a unified and iterative study of divergent situations of speaking/listening that accommodates flexibility and agency in the research process.


In progress

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