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Senior Lecturer in Politics, SOAS
Writer and Choreographer

Date & Time

Tue, 30 Jun 2020



Bangalore International Centre
7, 4th Main Road, Domlur II Stage
Bangalore, Karnataka 560071 India

Rahul Rao and Poorna Swami discuss whether cities, nations and communities should retain statues honouring 18th or 19th century slave traders and imperialists.

There are movements to bring down the statues of Confederate Generals in the United States of America, Colonial rulers in Europe, Gandhi in Africa. Rahul and Poorna explore if they are morally justified. If they are, where does one draw the line?

Rahul Rao is a senior lecturer at SOAS, the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, and the author of Out of Time: The Queer Politics of Postcoloniality (Oxford University Press 2020). Poorna Swami is an independent writer and journalist based in Bangalore.

Rahul Rao’s writing on statues:

On Statues: I (April 2, 2016), II (October 2, 2016), III (August 23, 2017).

Abusing Mandela to Absolve Rhodes (June 15, 2020)

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Rahul Rao

Senior Lecturer in Politics, SOAS

Rahul Rao has research interests in international relations theory, the international relations of South Asia, comparative political thought, and gender and sexuality. He is currently working on a book on queer postcolonial temporality. His first book Third World Protest: Between Home and the World (Oxford University Press, 2010) explored the relationship between cosmopolitanism and nationalism in postcolonial protest. He was previously a Term Fellow in Politics at University College, Oxford. He has a law degree from the National Law School of India University, and read for a doctorate in international relations at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

Poorna Swami

Writer and Choreographer

Poorna Swami writes on arts, culture, literature, and politics. Her essays, criticism, and reportage have appeared in The Caravan, Open, Mint-Lounge, The Hindu BLink, Firstpost and Words Without Borders, among other publications. Her poetry has been published in journals such as Indiana Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Prelude. Between 2015-2017 Poorna served as the India Editor-at-large  for the international online quarterly, Asymptote, and co-curated the journal’s first special feature on Indian language poetry in English translation. In 2018, she was awarded the Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize for young Indian poets.

At the age of seven, Poorna began training in the classical Indian dance form Bharatanatyam, before extending her training to contemporary dance and post-modern techniques. Her choreographic works frequently cross disciplines but are rooted in formal investigations of the body. Her works have shown in both India and the US, most recently at noted Indian arts spaces such as 1 Shanthi Road Studio/Gallery, Chatterjee & Lal, G5A Foundation for Contemporary Culture, and Serendipity Arts Festival. She was a recipient of the 2018 danceWEB scholarship at ImPulsTanz – Vienna International Dance Festival.

Poorna holds a BA, summa cum laude, in Dance-Theatre and English from Mount Holyoke College (USA). She divides her time between Bangalore and Mumbai.