The thresholds of memory

In 1978, eager to explore the world beyond Europe, I set off for Guyana where I lived for six years. When I arrived I had little knowledge of this former British sugar colony on the northeast coast of South America. Its legacy as a country is founded on the African slave trade and subsequently “coolie” labourers broad from India in the period 1838-1917. I encountered the dynamic worship of the South Indian goddess Mariamman (a form of Kali) on the plantations, which led me to creative work and lifelong friendships with the community members. My current project is an essay film which explores remembrance as a process of transfigurations. Since 2022, Constantinos has joined me on my journey and in the search to frame the experience through sound, image, word, and story, while drawing on material gathered during fieldwork from 1981 to 2024. We will discuss and show excerpts of our work.

Stephanos Stephanides is a poet, essayist, memoirist, translator, ethnographer, documentary filmmaker, and former Professor of Comparative Literature. His experience of Indo-Caribbean life and culture while teaching at the University of Guyana (1978-85) significantly shaped his life and creative vision, and led to a lifelong engagement with India. Representative publications include Translating Kali’s Feast: The Goddess in Indo-Caribbean Ritual and Fiction (2000), Blue Moon in Rajasthan and other poems (2005), and The Wind under My Lips (2018). Films and videos include Hail Mother Kali (Guyana, 1988), Kali in the Americas (New York, 2003), and Poets in No Man’s Land (Nicosia, 2012).

Constantinos Sophocles Constantinou (b. 1990) is a photographer, filmmaker, and educator living and working in Cyprus. He studied at the University of West Attica, Greece, where he is currently enrolled as a PhD candidate. His work has been exhibited and screened internationally at museums, festivals, and galleries.