Jashodhara Sen headshot
Engaged Arts and Humanities Scholar 2018–19
Theatre and Dance

A native of Kolkata, India, Jashodhara Sen is a PhD student in Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, and a 2017–18 Publicly Active Graduate Education (PAGE) Fellow. She earned her MA in Theatre Arts and MA in Theatre (Directing Emphasis) from Mumbai University and Oklahoma State University respectively. As a community-based artist and applied theatre practitioner, Sen's goal is to create a democratic and encouraging space for communities within and beyond academia. She practices theatre in non-traditional and public spaces with marginalized communities, and partners this work with exploration into postcolonial Bengali folk-theatre and women’s issues around immigration. Currently, Sen is working on a digital storytelling platform for South Asian immigrant women, titled “Leaving Home, Finding Home” that redefines audience-participant relationships in alternative theatrical spaces. Other than theatre, she enjoys spending time with her fur-babies and doing everything outdoors.

Students in the Engaged Arts and Humanities Graduate Student Scholars program participate in the development of a community-engaged scholarship "partner" project. Below, please read about Sen's project and her approach to this work. 

Sen’s project, LEAVING HOME, FINDING HOME is a digital storytelling space by and for immigrant women from South Asia residing in the United States (with heritage from South Asian countries: India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka). As a South Asian academic, immigrant, and digital archivist for this platform, she invites women who identify as South Asian to share their powerful stories related to immigration, identity, freedom, and equality. The forum is an open-access website for social networking, connecting with the fellow immigrant identities, and sharing and celebrating both collective and individual experiences.

In Spring 2019, Sen will hold several events for the front range South Asian-heritage community. These shared storytelling and creative narrative-making events will be held on the CU Boulder Campus, at the Boulder Public Library and possibly other spaces. Please contact Sen if you are interested in participating in her project or the upcoming events.

My field, theatre, and performance studies, has been progressively advocating for and developing research strategies for publicly-engaged scholarship. My community-engaged scholarship project will further this work by engaging immigrant women from South Asia as performers and audiences. I will also advance my own publicly-engaged scholarship, while critically exploring self-representation, communication, appropriation, and resilience in non-traditional performance spaces, such as recorded narratives. 

This project is informed by my overarching goal to work towards creating a democratic and engaging space for immigrant and non-immigrant communities to jointly discuss complex notions of immigration and nationality. I will also work on creating a virtual community space for minority identities to learn more about the opportunities and possibilities of open-access. This process will also further my pedagogical and creative queries such as: interaction and engagement with marginalized communities which also serves a portion of my dissertation.

My interest in achieving higher education in the humanities came from the knowledge shared by the scholars engaged in public practices, such as Paulo Freire, Augusto Boal, and bell hooks, which in due course encouraged me to pursue a career in practicing public scholarship. Every opportunity I received as an immigrant instilled a sense of belonging in me, and I am determined to create a similar experience for others within the community.

For my future goals, I would like to continue creating an engaging space for immigrant as well as non-immigrant communities to come together and discuss complex notions of immigration and nationality. Alongside, due to the nature of open-access scholarship, I would also like to use this website to invite minority identities to learn more about “digital accessibility” by exploring the parallel and power positions between the physical space and digital space.