Arts Derbyshire


Project Dastaan comes to Derby Museums to mark the 75th anniversary of Indian Partition

Derby Museums is proud to bring Project Dastaan to Derby as part of its UK tour to mark the 75th anniversary of Indian Partition (1947).

Project Dastaan, which opens at Derby Museum and Art Gallery on Tuesday 8th November, explores the aftermath of the 1947 Partition of India and Pakistan, and ideas around postcolonial identity, forced migration and the effects of colonisation as told by those who experienced it.

Taking place in the museum’s World Collections gallery, visitors to Project Dastaan are invited to wear headsets to experience Child of Empire; an award-winning virtual reality (VR) docu-drama that immerses viewers in stories of Partition, inspired by real-life accounts from both sides of the border.

Project Dastaan’s three-part animated series, Lost Migrations, will also be screening in the museum, featuring hidden stories of the subcontinent and exploring the memory, loss and trauma that accompanied the Partition of British India, through the voices of the colonised.

Sparsh Ahuja, Founder and CEO of Project Dastaan said:

“Seventy-five years after their migrations, Partition remains a deeply personal experience for my two grandfathers (Ishar and Jagdish) who directly inspired [the ‘Child of Empire’] film. By highlighting the similarities of migration journeys on either side of the border, ‘Child of Empire’ is a reminder that it is ordinary people that suffer the most when nationalisms are created and torn apart by political elites. This film is a challenge to the divisive communalism that unfortunately plagues the subcontinent today. As a child of diaspora, I have come to understand that the important stories of migration are not those of the politics that dictate it, but the people it uproots.” 

Aanchal Malhotra, Project Dastaan Advisor, said:

“Project Dastaan is pathbreaking and it has been a pleasure to be associated with it from the very beginning. Its methodology of weaving oral history with technology has allowed those displaced at the time of Partition to carve an extraordinary virtual path back to the lands they left behind in 1947. As the geopolitics of the subcontinent continues to be defined by the legacy of decolonisation and division, Project Dastaan strives to preserve the memory of a time unmarked by borders.”

Tony Butler, Executive Director of Derby Museums, said:

“For the last five years Derby Museums has been working with the city’s diaspora communities, especially those of Pakistani and Indian heritage, to explore the legacy of Empire through its world cultures collections. As a civic space, a museum is a place to interrogate history which is painful or contested. We are delighted to be hosting Project Dastaan as it will encourage the people of Derby to understand the legacy and human stories of Partition.”

Visitors can drop-in to experience Project Dastaan at Derby Museum and Art Gallery between Tuesday 8th to Sunday 13th November 2022. Project Dastaan is suitable for everyone aged 12 years and over, and admission is free with an invitation to Give What You Think.

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