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Oral History Interview with YaliniDream

YaliniDream is an Ilankai Tamil American performing artist, facilitator, cultural practitioner, an organizer, a somatics practitioner, and a consultant who has experiences in justice and anti-oppression work globally. This interview relates to the overall project by documenting how a Tamil American activist and leader's politics draw from her spiritual experiences and convictions, dating back to when she was a young child. She discusses growing up and how her Tamilness is born out of spiritual experiences that allow her to reclaim Tamil history as one that is inclusive of queerness, trans identities, anti-patriarchal politics, and environmental justice. She discusses how these experiences related with growing up and resisting the patriarchal limitations placed upon her by her family, and how these limitations are not inherent to Tamil culture but rather a force of alienation from our deepest essence as a people. She likens these familial limitations on creativity, expression, and self actualization to the community limitations on political creativity, cultural reclamation, and social transformation. She discusses how our politics can build off of the Tamil culture and politics of care that embrace matriarchal practices and rituals.

Yalini also discusses her journey out of nationalism by making community with Tamil people who lost family members for having different political visions of what justice looks like for Ilankai Tamils, and through her time in Tamil refugee camps where stories of suffering countered and complicated nationalist narratives. Despite resisting a nationalist narrative, she talks about how we must have a liberatory political framework and how it is important to build community with Tamils who support nationalism. This interview vitally adds a spiritual dimension to what Tamil feminist dissent is and/or could be, complementing the theoretical/scholarly approach and the emotional/psychological approach presented by other interviewees as part of this project.

Photo courtesy of Bill Bain at Momma's Hip Hop Kitchen

Activism, Childhood, Gender & Sexuality, Arts, Philosophy & Spirituality

Duration: 02:02:05

Date: February 15, 2022
Subject(s): YaliniDream
Type: Oral History
Source: Archival Creators Fellowship Program
Creator: Kartik Amarnath
Contributor: YaliniDream
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Collection: Kartik Amarnath Fellowship project
Donor: YaliniDream
Item History: 2022-06-24 (created); 2023-04-19 (modified)

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