History Hour – AIDS Activism and the Cinematic Afterlife of Dominic D’Souza: Goan Invisibility in the Film My Brother…Nikhil

XCHR Cordially invites you to a lecture and discussion on

AIDS Activism and the cinematic afterlife of dominic D’souza:

Goan Invisibility in the Film My Brother…Nikhil

The year 2017 marked the 25th anniversary of the passing of activist Dominic D’Souza, who succumbed to AIDS-related complications after being diagnosed as the first person in India to have become infected with HIV. On this anniversary, as in the past, D’Souza’s death was used as a platform for gay rights in India, not least because of the film My Brother… Nikhil (2005), reportedly the first in India to depict a gay story. Yet, D’Souza never claimed to be gay, and the film does not acknowledge the use of the activist’s life-story in its credits. Using the director’s admission that MBN was nevertheless inspired by D’Souza’s legacy, this presentation examines it as a quasi-biopic that employs the struggles of the AIDS activist to champion the rights of middle class gay men in India while failing to represent the larger political ramifications of AIDS advocacy.

That the film’s spurious use of D’Souza’s story is itself a metaphor for India’s queer relationship with Goa – one of the former occupying the latter while claiming to release it from the grasp of Portuguese colonization – raises questions about the nationalism of India’s contemporary gay rights movement. Twenty-five years on, in light of the global shift away from AIDS-activism and towards marriage equality as the defining factor of gay activism, this presentation will consider how D’Souza’s Goanness may recast the possibility of queer activism beyond the limitations of nationalism.‎

Dr. R. Benedito Ferrão, who will present this talk, is an Assistant Professor of English and Asian & Pacific Islander American Studies at The College of William and Mary (USA). He is currently a Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Research Fellow at XCHR. Curator of the 2017-18 exhibition Goa, Portugal, Mozambique: The Many Lives of Vamona Navelcar, he edited a book of the same title (Fundação Oriente 2017) to accompany this retrospective. His scholarly writing appears in various journals and edited books, including Research in African Literatures and Places of Nature in Ecologies of Urbanism (HKU Press 2017); his fiction and creative non-fiction can be read in Riksha, The Good Men Project, and The João Roque Literary Journal.

The talk will be moderated by Albertina Almeida, a feminist lawyer, human rights activist, and independent researcher. She is a member of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, and has facilitated several Feminist Legal Theory and Practice Programmes in the Asia Pacific Region. She writes regularly on social concerns in the local and national press.

Xavier Centre of Historical Research
Thursday, 14th November, 2019 at 5:30 pm
B.B. Borkar Road, Alto Porvorim, Goa – 403521 /+91-832-2417772,
www.xchr.in / in**@xc**.in/ www.facebook.com/xchr.goa