The 4th international conference organized by WERC took place on the 24th and 25th of November 2017 at WERC premises. The event was possible through part funding received from the India – Sri Lanka Foundation.
WERC requested abstracts on the theme of cultural productions- paintings, literary productions, dramas, folk dramas – produced in the South Asia region. These abstracts were considered under five different themes: religious rites and women; women and literary products – novels, novellas, short stories and poems; drama and their differing themes – stage dramas and street dramas; women and cinema – films, documentaries, dance as a form of art and women – both classical and modern.
WERC received a large number of quality abstracts from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Sixteen candidates presented their research papers during the two-day conference in November.
The conference began with a welcome speech by the Executive Director of WERC, Ms. Shiranee Mills. The keynote speech was delivered by Dr. Shermal Wijewardena, a Senior Lecturer from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. The two-day conference consisted of six sessions presided by six moderators. There were 4 paper presenters in the 1st session and this session was moderated by Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran, Trustee and member of the Governing Council of WERC. Ms. Pooja Kalita from India presented a paper on ‘Understanding South Asian Feminism/ Feminisms across Borders: Feminists Art from South Asia’. Ms. Minoli Wijetunga with her Co-author Ms. ALDSW Ambegoda presented a paper on ‘Baduwa in the sheets? Ambuwa in the Streets? Representation of the Aryan Woman in Sinhala Lyrics’. Ms. Nelani de Costa presented a paper on ‘The Depiction of Queer Identity in the Contemporary Sri Lankan Novel’. Ms. Ritu Menon from India presented a paper on ‘Sweeping Up the Stars in the Sky: Feminist Publishing and Women’s Literary Production in India’.
During the 2nd session moderated by Ms. Dinali Fernando, the Head of the Department of English at the University of Kelaniya, Prof. Sonia Amin from Bangladesh presented a paper on ‘From Fairytale Protagonist to Television Serial Heroine: The Story of Kiranmala’. Ms. Bincy George from India presented a paper on ‘Sexuality in Delhi’s Proscenium Theatre’. Mr. Lal Medawattegedara presented a paper on ‘Bola! Strumpet! Didst thou stay with thy paramour until so much time has gone? : A Study of the Adulterous Female in Sinhala Folktales’.
The first day ended with a theatre performance titled ‘Karuppi’ (Dark Woman) performed by Ms. Ponni Arasu who is a researcher, activist and an academic. It was a thought provoking performance that paved the way for a lively discussion. This was moderated by Prof. Camena Guneratne.
The 3rd session was moderated by Prof. Maithree Wickramasinghe, a Senior Lecturer from the University of Colombo. The 1st presentation was by Ms. Khushboo Jain from India on ‘The Unseen Tales of Streets, Its Cultures and Women Treading the Two.’ Ms. Anupama Ranawana presented a paper on ‘Reconstructing the Veil: Young Catholic Women and the Politics of the Veil’. Ms. Linet Sebastian from India presented a paper on ‘Women and the Literature of Protest: Historico Political Narratives of the Select North East Indian Writers’.
The 4th session commenced with the presentation of ‘Erasure of the Military in Selected Works of Jane Austen and Yasmine Gooneratne’ by Ms. Madara Ranmuthugala. This session was moderated by Ms. Esther Surenthraraj, Lecturer of English, Univerty of Colombo. Gaya Nagahawatta presented a paper on ‘Development of the Female Role in the Scripts of a Contemporary Playwright’. Ms. Sukrity Gogoi from India presented a paper on ‘Voices of Change in Indian Slam Poetry: An Emerging Sub-genre’.
The 5th and the final session was moderated by Ms. Sulakshana de Mel, a Governing Council Member at WERC. Ms. Bhargabi Das from India commenced this session with a presentation titled ‘Analysis of Tanica Sarkar’s ‘A Book of her Own: The Autobiography of a Nineteenth Century Woman’. Mr. Pathmanesan Sanmugeswaran presented a paper on ‘Puberty Ritual, Gender Dynamics and New Connections among the Jaffna Tamils in Post-war Sri Lanka’. The conference ended with a presentation by Ms. Aruni Samarakoon on a paper titled ‘A Feminist Reading on the Testimonials of Tamil Tigress in Selected Literature’.
Ms. Harshani Pinnawala, Senior Programme Officer of WERC gave the vote of thanks. She along with Ms. Shari Jayawardhana, Programme Coordinator served as overall presiders of the two day session. WERC hopes to compile these research papers into a publication in the near future.