Annual inundations are fascinating natural phenomena. While their sheer power invokes fear, one cannot help being awed at the same time. It is associated with loss and disappearance – of land, lives, histories and civilisations. In places where identities are so closely associated with land, it is hard to imagine the extent of that loss. Yet, however depressing as it may seem, lives carry on and coexist with the water that builds and destroys, provides and deprives.
© Kazu Ahmed 2008
Matmora, where these photos have been taken, has long been lost in the depths of the Brahmaputra. An educational, cultural and historical centre, once synonymous with the identity of the Mising people of Assam, the village has all but completely disappeared, leaving nothing but its memory in the swirling waters of the Brahmaputra during the inundations. While the land is gone, the people continue to survive, and need an identity to hold on to – an identity that enables them to associate with Matmora. An embankment hitherto nameless has been rechristened as the village and become home for the people of Matmora.
Taken in 2008, these images are portraits of an existence around that memory.
Kazimuddin (Kazu) Ahmed is an anthropologist and a media practitioner presently working with IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature in New Delhi, India. He was previously with Panos South Asia working on projects to communicate research and boost community based communication initiatives. His research interests are in the subjects of migration, borders, resources and identities, and he worked in the environment, development media and research sectors for many years. With a Master of Arts degree in Anthropology of Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, Kazu is also a photographer and is involved in documentary film-making.
Kazu Ahmed's series of photographies is on display in the context of the Workshop 'The Transculturality of Historical Disasters: Governance and the Materialisation of Glocalisation' organised by Heidelberg University's Cluster 'Asia and Europe in a Global Context' in collaboration with Max Mueller Bhavan New Delhi.