Purvanchal aur Palayan


‘Poorvanchal aur Palayan: Transversing Migration Narratives’ is a virtual storytelling project exploring the historical and contemporary movement of people from East India to other parts of the country and the world.

With a focus on regions including Bihar, Jharkhand, Eastern UP and parts of West Bengal and Odisha, the project counters the hegemonic North-and-South discourse in the mainstream, wherein the distinct and diverse cultures of Eastern regions of India get ignored.

Defining the Poorvanchal region is a complex task. Linguistically, it is assumed to be dominated by Bhojpuri; politically, there has been a demand for a different state through the bifurcation of Uttar Pradesh; and geographically, it is simply the eastern parts of India. Its proximity to the operations of East India Company created discordant postcolonial realities and a unique media and literary representation in the aftermath of Indian independence.

The project includes stories on outstation students, marital relocation, labour mobility within urban-rural networks and transnational journeys influenced by the Indenture system, the Partition in South Asia, and the Gulf oil boom. By creating a rich tapestry of narratives, this project aims to highlight the pluralistic micro-histories and interconnectedness of the region in a way that effaces the homogenisation of lived experiences.

This would have been impossible without our contributors who generously lent us their time, stories and memorabilia with us. We invite you to engage with this digital archive and create new conversations around migration and East India, broadening the ambit of this project.


Akash Bharadwaj is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History and Archaeology at Shiv Nadar University. His research examines collecting and curatorial practices and collections’ histories in museums of Bihar to understand how a region ‘imagines’ itself for the nation and the world. During the course of his research, he has conceived projects for which he has worked in different archives and museums in both India and the UK. He is at present also engaged in building a repository which seeks to archive narratives on the art, culture, and heritage of Bihar.

Sudeshna Rana is a writer, poet, researcher, and editor interested in gender, culture, and ecology. Her works appear in Paper Planes, Polyester Zine, Smashboard, Feminism in India, Cocoa & Jasmine Magazine and Red River Publishing. Her short story on female friendship appeared in an anthology published by Yoda Press. A recipient of the South Asia Speaks 2022 fellowship, she is currently writing an ecofeminist account of Dhanbad, the coal capital of India. She is a winner of the third edition of 10X10 Research Grant on Photobook History.


Eligibility Criteria

Individuals who are Indian nationals residing in India, or collectives whose members are Indian nationals residing in India. Individuals with relevant academic qualifications; or who are already engaged in research, with access to private or public collections; or who have professional experience in writing/publishing; or activists with years of engagement/experience in their chosen fields.

Deadline for Applications: 17 May 2020

Duration of Grant: One year | 1 July 2020 – 30 June 2021

Grant Amount: Up to INR 3,00,000

Grant Deliverables
  • Report: A detailed report (of not less than 7,500 words) on the research undertaken, to be submitted at the conclusion of the grant period. An interim mid-term report of 1000-1500 words. Suggested appendices, in addition to the report:
  • Interviews of persons relevant to the research (to be submitted in text form in English)
  • Translations into English of select texts used in the research
  • Bibliography of published and unpublished sources used in the research
  • Timeline of the periodical/writer/subject under study
  • Original, digitised, or photocopied material collected during research
  • Presentation/Workshop.
  • A public presentation of the research, to be organised by AAA in collaboration with other institutions and organisations (venue and dates to be confirmed)
  • A cover letter with your name, postal address, email address, telephone number (if available), along with the names and email addresses of two referees with experience in the area of your proposed research
  • A CV no more than two pages/750 words in length
  • Project Proposal: An outline of your research project, which should include: (i) A brief description in no more than 1,500 words of the intended research and its components (ii) Names of sources, libraries/archives/collections, and interlocutors your research will focus on (iii) A tentative timeline for the project’s realisation (iv) No more than five images of proposed research material in a single PDF file (iv) no more than five images of proposed research material in a single pdf file
  • Budget: A breakdown of estimated costs for your project based on your proposal and timeline. The proposed budget will not be considered final until vetted by AAA & SSAF in consultation with the selected grantee before the commencement of the grant. be organised by AAA in collaboration with other institutions and organisations (venue and dates to be confirmed)