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Harjant Gill | On North Indian/Punjabi Masculinities: A Screening followed by Discussion with the Filmmaker

Lecture | November 9 | 5-7:30 p.m. | Stephens Hall, 10 (ISAS Conf. Room)


Harjant S. Gill, Documentary Filmmaker and Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Towson University

Karen Nakamura, Robert and Colleen Haas Distinguished Chair in Disability Studies and Professor of Anthropology Graduate advisor, UCB-UCSF Joint Program in Medical Anthropology

Institute for South Asia Studies, Sarah Kailath Chair of India Studies, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society - Disability Studies cluster


A screening followed by discussion with Prof. Harjant Gill on his three-part series on Indian masculinities, exploring the intersections of race, gender roles, religion, sexual violence, and transnationalism within everyday life in Punjab.

Speaker Bio

Harjant Gill is an assistant professor of anthropology at Towson University, Maryland. He received his PhD from American University. His research examines the intersections of masculinity, modernity, transnational migration and popular culture in India. Gill is also an award-winning filmmaker and has made several ethnographic films that have screened at film festivals, academic conferences and on television networks worldwide including BBC, Doordarshan (Indian National TV) and PBS. Gill is a Point Foundation alum (2006-11). He has also served on the board of directors of Society for Visual Anthropology (SVA) and co-directed the SVA Film & Media Festival (2012-14).

Director’s Statement:

Over the last five years, I have directed a three-part series on Indian masculinities, exploring the intersections of race, gender roles, religion, sexual violence, and transnationalism within everyday life in Punjab.

Roots of Love (26 min.), the first film in this series profiles Sikh men, and their changing relationship to their hair and turbans. In a post 9/11 world where members of the Sikh community are often targets of racist and xenophobic attacks (especially in North America), young Sikh men in India and in the diaspora are disidentifying with Sikh traditions by cutting their unshorn hair. The film explores the intergenerational tension between the younger Sikhs’ desire to assimilate and older Sikhs’ anxiety around losing the most important symbol of their ethnic and cultural identity.

Mardistan [Macholand] (28 min.), the second film in this series examines the culture of homophobia, patriarchy and male supremacy in India, including the ubiquity of rape and sexual violence being used as a means of control against Indian women and men. I made the film as a response to the December 2012 gang rape and murder of a young woman in New Delhi, an incident that received global media attention. Departing from the media’s focus on rape culture and sexual violence, “Mardistan” shines a spotlight on men’s lives within a deeply patriarchal society, furthering much-needed discourse on masculinities that remains surprisingly absent from mainstream media’s coverage of gender related issues.

Filmed in the same (Punjab) region as its predecessors, the third installment in this series Sent Away Boys (40 min.) examines the interplay between agrarian landscapes, patriarchal family structures, and transnational migration. The collapse of small-scale agricultural economies and the lack of secure employment opportunities have led young Punjabi men to give up farming and become part of global workforce providing low-wage labor to counties in Europe, North America, and the Gulf. Filmed in villages largely devoid of young working-aged men, “Sent Away Boys” examines what happens to masculinity within middle-class patriarchal households in the absence of sons, husbands, and fathers.

Read more about Prof. Gill at his website www.TilotamaProductions.com

Event made possible with the support of the Sarah Kailath Chair of India Studies

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isas@berkeley.edu, 510-642-3608