Afsan Chowdhury in conversation with Sophia Balagamwala

Oak Fellow Afsan Chowdhury Afsan Chowdhury was born in 1954. He has had a parallel career in development work and the media. He has been active in multi-disciplinary research, media relations, journalism, and program development for two decades, and is one of the editors of an authoritative work on Bangladesh’s War of Independence. He held a high position in UNICEF, but left to become a freelancer and social activist. He was also the BBC’s correspondent in Bangladesh but left to concentrate on development-related work. In 1994, he established, HASAB, a funding nonprofit for organizations working in the area of HIV, STDs, and AIDS.He was Contributing Producer for a number of BBC World Service series, and is the author of four novels. Afsan has compiled an extensive set of audio interviews of ordinary Bangladeshis as well as high profile people in Bangladesh and India on their experiences of 1971.
Sophia Balagamwala is the Director of Interactive Projects at the Citizens Archive of Pakistan, a non profit organization dedicated to Cultural and Historic Preservation. She is responsible for conceptualizing and curating exhibitions  that exhibit oral histories, video, photography, and other archival material with the aim to to engage and educate the community and foster an awareness of Pakistan’s true history. She recently curated State of Being so Divided, an exhibition commemorating the transformation of the subcontinent, and fortieth anniversary of the creation of the state of Bangladesh.
The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP) is a non profit organization dedicated to Cultural and Historic Preservation.
CAP has focused its attention on the tradition of oral story-telling in Pakistan, emphasizing the importance of such narratives in a dialogue on national identity. Our organization has three main goals: to preserve and provide access to the archive, to build and support educational programs, and to develop educational products based on the testimonies collected.
Afsan and Sophia will participate in a short discussion during the launch of the 1971 archives at the National Press Club on the 12th February 2012. The programme can be seen online at from 11:00 am Bangladesh Standard Time (GMT +6)
Related Articles:
 Songs of a Wounded Image
Archiving 1971

Author: Shahidul Alam

Time Magazine Person of the Year 2018. A photographer, writer, curator and activist, Shahidul Alam obtained a PhD in chemistry before switching to photography. His seminal work “The Struggle for Democracy” contributed to the removal of General Ershad. Former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society, Alam set up the Drik agency, Chobi Mela festival and Pathshala, South Asian Media Institute, considered one of the finest schools of photography in the world. Shown in MOMA New York, Centre Georges Pompidou, Royal Albert Hall and Tate Modern, Alam has been guest curator of Whitechapel Gallery, Winterthur Gallery and Musee de Quai Branly. His awards include Mother Jones, Shilpakala Award and Lifetime Achievement Award at the Dali International Festival of Photography. Speaker at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Oxford and Cambridge universities, TEDx, POPTech and National Geographic, Alam chaired the international jury of the prestigious World Press Photo contest. Honorary Fellow of Royal Photographic Society, Alam is visiting professor of Sunderland University in UK and advisory board member of National Geographic Society. John Morris, the former picture editor of Life Magazine describes his book “My journey as a witness”, (listed in “Best Photo Books of 2011” by American Photo), as “The most important book ever written by a photographer.”

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