How to Arm your Friends: Gender, Modernity and Revolution in 1930s Bengal – LECTURE

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Date / time: 10 July, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Royal Armouries Museum (Leeds)

How to Arm your Friends: Gender, Modernity and Revolution in 1930s Bengal - LECTURE


Join Malya Bhattacharya to learn more about a group of female students in 1930s Calcutta and Dacca, as they mastermind a bank heist, raid a British arsenal, and shoot the Governor-General of Bengal – while also talking about reading books, riding bikes, driving and swimming.

The most prominent image of Indian independence is the non-violent resistance movement led by Gandhi. However, this has overshadowed the considerable armed campaign against British rule that took place at the same time. Between 1930 and 1932, the northern Indian region of Bengal saw 3,000 arrests for revolutionary terrorist activities.

This talk is about a group of women in Bengal who organised an armed campaign against British colonial rule between 1928-1934. By becoming revolutionaries bearing arms, these women blurred lines between public and private, domestic and political and finally, between myth and history.

Mayla will highlight how modernity features in the discourse of revolutionary women as they pick up arms, form new friendships, abscond and travel alone in unprecedented ways. It also explores the transformative power of friendships, which not only shaped revolutionary identities but served as the backbone of political activism.

Based on research in various archives across the UK, India and Bangladesh, including private and personal collections, the lecture will uncover many historical events that have not received either popular or scholarly attention.

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