This archival project is first of a series of Sri Lankans’ histories that focuses on mothers from the South and North. It highlights their strength in the face of adversity, and their hopes for their children’s and Sri Lanka’s future. Mothers are guardians of their family history. They are the pillars of strength upon which a family is built. As such, this project chooses to archive mothers’ stories, recording the story of an entire family.
These histories or ‘Herstories’ not only showcase a shared history, but show how we Sri Lankans are rooted in multiple identities, multiple histories, and different experiences. Through the narratives of many, this project will highlight a collective sense of fundamental humanness and ‘Sri Lankanness’ that transcend boundaries. These ‘Herstories’ will not only add to the culture of oral tradition and story telling in Sri Lanka, they will contribute to bringing diverse groups together and the preservation of history through the ‘voices of those that lived it’ for future generations of Sri Lankans.
The project has collected 230 oral histories recounting personal histories, experiences and hopes – some through hand-written letter; some through photo essays; some through short video; and some through mapping and visual story telling exercises. They have been translated and are available in English, Sinhala and Tamil.
A sample collection will be presented through a traveling exhibition in Colombo, Galle and Ampara. The entire collection will also be archived online at www.herstoryarchives.org. The originals will be presented to the National Archives in Sri Lanka for posterity. This will ensure that it remains a living history.
‘Herstories’ will be on in Colombo on April 6 and 7 at the Harold Peiris Gallery, Lionel Wendt, in Ampara from April 20-21 at the Christa Illam Hall, Kalmunai and in Galle on April 27 -28 at an as yet undecided venue. Collaborators on the project include the organisation Viluthu, Sharni Jayawardena and November Productions.