In 2015, Nepal Picture Library launched Retelling Histories – Engaging with an Inclusive Nepali Past, a multi-disciplinary, multi-range, collaborative long-term project that approached history in a bottom-up alternative way. One of the components of the project was the arts and education program, designed and conducted by Sharareh Bajracharya and Niranjan Kunwar, with the goal of engaging schools, teachers and students.
Nepal Picture Library (NPL) is a digital photo archive run by photo.circle that strives to document an inclusive history of the Nepali people by encouraging individuals to contribute their stories to a national historical narrative. Since its inception in 2011, the archive has collected around 100,000 photographs from different parts of Nepal and attempted to contextualize them with personal narratives that traditional historians have not embraced.
History is written from claims and counterclaims. Nepali history suffers from an acute lack of visual, and other, representation of marginalized groups. Slowly as we are becoming more accepting of our diversity and making attempts to move towards plurality in governance and other social systems, we must also give our past the plurality that it deserves. We must reclaim the narratives that have been left untold to foster better understanding – especially among Nepali youth - of who we are and where we have come from.
This project seeks to build this more inclusive historical consciousness in Nepali youth through a range of public engagement and education programs. Throughout its diverse programming, the project will encourage youth to not only seek rights to have their stories included, but also encourage them to recognize that as citizens. It is their responsibility to contribute to a larger narrative thereby promoting strong democratic values and principles. The project will lead to creating a sense of pride in Nepali youth of their past, and promoting a more respectful coexistence in the future.
Arts and education Program
The arts and education program worked closely with schools, teachers and students by conducting workshops and classroom demonstrations. Teachers were given curricular outlines, lesson ideas and various materials to support their work. The objective of the program was to have students research and learn about the diverse histories of their families and ethnic groups through readings, interviews and by examining and writing about photographs brought from home. Students shared their findings with each other in class and with a larger group during a culminating Student Performance.
The program attempted to work with schools and teachers to make history more engaging and interesting for students, using the language, visual and performance arts as a teaching pedagogy. It encouraged teachers to try integrated learning methods in their classrooms.
The arts and education program was conducted in three different phases. For the first phase, we worked with one private school and one government school. The number of schools increased gradually in the other two phases.
During the course of the unit, we requested participating schools and parents to