“Masculinities, Desire and Belonging”: The Films of Harjant Gill

1 May 2014
York University, Department of Anthropology 4700 Keele St.

SAVAC is proud to be a community partner for the presentation of Harjant Gill’s films, as part of the CASCA (Canadian Anthropology Society) Conference

For award winning filmmaker Harjant Gill, making films is about casting a spotlight on urgent and often overlooked social issues, and making marginalized members of society feel less isolated and more understood. Gill’s films explore the intersection of gender, sexuality, religion, nationhood and notions of belonging with a particular focus on South Asian and South Asian diasporic masculinities.

Gill received his PhD in anthropology from American University and is currently an assistant professor of anthropology at Towson University, Maryland

This special plenary session of the 2014 CASCA Meetings at York University, Toronto, will include screenings of 4 of Gill’s films (including his latest documentary, Mardistan/Manland) and a panel discussion of these films’ themes, issues and contributions to anthropological research on masculinities, sexualities, nationalisms, and diasporas. Dr. Gill will be participating in the panel and responding to discussants’ comments.

Panel Chair and Organizer: David AB Murray, Department of Anthropology, York University

Panel Discussants

Dr. Michael Nijhawan, Department of Sociology, York University
Dr. Sailaja Krishnamurti, Department of Humanities, York University
Dr. Arun Chaudhuri, Department of Anthropology, York University
Ms. Amrita Kauldher, Department of Anthropology, York University
Dr. Harjant Gill, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice, Towson University

Films

1. Lot’s Wife (2008, 10 min, fiction)
Lot’s Wife is a modern day tale of Sodom and Gomorrah set in a shantytown located on the outskirts of Istanbul, Turkey. Mehmet is a young hardworking young man who lives in a small house that belongs to his uncle Seyfeddin. Unbeknownst to Seyfeddin, Mehmet is living with his lover Ali. On one summer day, Seyfeddin along with his wife Meryem, and two brothers, Hidir and Mikail barge into Mehmet’s apartment, threatening to destroy everything he hopes for and had created with Ali so far.

2. Milind Soman Made Me Gay (2007, 27 min, documentary)
An experimental documentary (inspired partly by Marlon Riggs’ Tongues Untied) – which explores notions of citizenship and belonging among gay South Asian men in diaspora through memories of home. The film follows ethnographic research Gill conducted in the Washington DC area as a graduate student in anthropology at American University.

3. Roots of Love (2007, 26 min, documentary)
Told through the stories of six different men ranging in age from fourteen to eighty-six, Roots of Love documents the changing significance of hair and the turban among Sikhs in India. We see younger Sikh men abandoning their hair and turban to follow the current fashion trends, while the older generation struggles to retain the visible symbols of their religious identity. The film is a timely and relevant exploration of the inherent conflict between tradition and modernity, between pragmatism and faith. The choice of cutting one’s hair is one that not only concerns the individual and his family, but an entire community.

4. Mardistan/Manland (2014, 55 min, documentary, work in progress)
This film explores how men in North India experience privilege and power. It examines traditional patriarchal practices of son preference, growing reports of sexual violence, as well as the more recent phenomenon of risky transnational migration that privileges men over women.

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