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Performance workshop by Amelia Bonea now online



3 March 2021

The immersive virtual workshop and performance “Along The Lines” was the result of a collaboration between 
Dr. Amelia Bonea, research fellow at the HCTS and a former member of the project “
Diseases of Modern Life” at
Oxford University, and
Anuja Ghosalkar, a Bangalore-based artist and founder of the documentary theatre company Drama Queen. It featured the participation of the students of
Focus High School, Dar-ul-Shifa, Hyderabad (India). The aim of the event was to encourage students to reflect on the past and present of technologies of communication and the myriad ways in which they shape our lives. The show successfully premiered online on October 17, 2020.

The starting point for the workshop was the illustrated children´s story “
The Magic Mango”, written by Dr. Amelia Bonea as part of her work for the project “Diseases of Modern Life.” The book is based on Bonea´s first monograph, “
The News of Empire: Telegraphy, Journalism, and the Politics of Reporting in Colonial India, c.1830-1900,” which reconstructed the interconnected history of telegraphy and journalism in nineteenth-century India. Published by
Pratham Books’ StoryWeaver – a not-for-profit publisher based in India – the story is currently available in ten languages and has been used as part of a mobile library program for children based in remote areas of West Bengal (India), and by a non-governmental organization working with refugee children in Germany and across the Arab world.

The show was conceived by Anuja Ghosalkar and benefitted from the design and conceptual assistance of filmmaker Aliasger Dhariwala. The rehearsals covered a period of four weeks and were conducted entirely online. The final performance was an imaginative recreation of the original book plotline and made use of digital platforms to reflect on the meaning of distance, our yearning for other places, and the possibility of traveling within the boundaries of one's home with the help of self-made maps in a time of restricted mobility. The performance incorporated older technologies too, like gramophones and telephone instruments, and annotated imperial telegraph maps. Students also sang about the electric telegraph to the tunes of self-composed rap music.

The performance is available on the
website of the Faculty of English at Oxford University and on

Dr. Amelia Bonea is a research fellow at the HCTS. She is a historian of modern South Asia and the British Empire, with degrees from the Universities of Tokyo (BLA and MA) and Heidelberg (PhD). Amelia works primarily at the intersections of media, science, technology and medicine. In her current DFG project “
Archives of the Earth: Fossils, Science and Historical Imaginaries in Twentieth-Century India,” she explores the global history of paleosciences and their connection with the exploitation of natural resources and climate change research in colonial and postcolonial India.