SPARROW Sound & Picture Archives for Research on Women

SPARROW Sound & Picture Archives for Research on Women

Mumbai ~ India

SPARROW (1988, India), Sound & Picture Archives for Research on Women, culture and development

This dynamic, Mumbai-based women’s archives challenges dominant views of India’s history by putting women’s voices centre stage. Feminist histories and women’s experiences are researched, collected and shared, broadening public knowledge of women’s role in social and cultural development.


Report from the 2014 Prince Claus Awards Committee

April 2014

SPARROW (1988, Mumbai) is an independent archival project that preserves and produces materials on the diverse histories and voices of women and feminism in India. Started in the home of writer and researcher CS Lakshmi, with co-founders Neera Desai and Maithreyi Krishna Raj, it has grown into a vibrant research centre with an extensivecollection of written, visual and aural items. Multidisciplinary and focused on individual stories, the archives cover all aspects of the politics of women’s everyday lives – the different race, gender and class struggles on many levels – and highlight women’s cultural, social and political contributions.


SPARROW also creates resources, recovering experiences absent from official sources and in danger of being lost. Students participate in recording oral histories, collecting facts not found in history books from women in progressive movements, social activists, tribal women, NGO women, traditional healers and scientists, among others. It publishes books, brochures and newsletters. Archiving in more than eight local languages, SPARROW translates to increase accessibility. It has published four volumes of a five-volume anthology featuring 87 writers translated from 23 languages.


Through readings, lectures, screenings and workshops, SPARROW stimulates discussion on topics such as Mumbai’s communal violence, and the representation of women in popular culture. Book fairs, seminars, festivals and exhibitions, as well as social media assist public dissemination. It has showcased the work of women artists and cartoonists, and organised a conference of Dalit women writers. To celebrate International Women’s Day in 2006, its exhibition Marching on the Roads: Making Oneself, Making History featured blown-up photos of women’s activism pasted on buses plying four routes in Mumbai.


SPARROW is honoured for conserving and disseminating eclectic evidence of Indian women’s struggles for a more just society; for uplifting women, inspiring dedication, energy and vision; for creating a powerful weapon in the battle to eradicate discrimination against women; for highlighting different ways of seeing, remembering and writing history, countering patriarchal versions and power structures; and for establishing a resource that makes rediscovery of women’s histories possible and transmits the legacy to younger and future generations.