IIT Hyderabad hosts its first ‘Human Library’ Event

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Hyderabad: Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad hosted its first ‘Human Library event ‘ on Sunday, 08th October 2017.

​The idea of ‘Human Library’ was conceptualized in the year 2000 by Ronni Abergel, a social activist, and was first launched in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue. The Human Library now has above 600 book depots worldwide. The Hyderabad chapter was founded by Harshad Fad.

In the events organized by Human Library, individuals from stigmatized sections of the society that are stereotyped based on their ethnicity, religion, sexuality, disability, occupation, social status or lifestyle volunteer as ‘books.’ The readers are free to choose these human ‘books’ from a catalogue. The ‘books’ then share their life experiences with a group of readers and an interactive session follows.

Speaking about the event, Prof. Haripriya Narasimhan, Head, Department of Liberal Arts, IIT Hyderabad, said, “The Department of Liberal Arts endeavors to expose our students to different perspectives of our lives as experienced by ordinary people, so that they can locate their disciplinary practices and objectives within the larger society. The Human Library is one such event which will enable the young minds on campus to understand the deep-rooted prejudices and also how the human spirit allows us to overcome these differences.”

IIT Hyderabad hosted a total of 12 ‘books’ in collaboration with the Hyderabad Chapter of the Human Library. The objective of the event is to help facilitate understanding of individual differences and the dynamics of marginality among the student community.

The reading session comprised the books’ narration of their life experiences followed by an interactive session. The excitement of the students was perceptible as they lined up for the book reading sessions.

A total of five sessions were conducted and each session had approximately 5-8 readers per book. The books entitled “Chains of Freedom” and “Price of Smiling” were particularly popular with the readers. The book “Price of Smiling,” narrated the inspiring story of her struggle with clinical depression and her return from the brink of suicide. The session for “Chains of Freedom” was an amalgamation of engaging theatrics, intriguing propositions and astounding adventures. The book spoke about the politics of identity, nationalism and boundaries while justifying his vision for a world without borders.

The idea behind this event is that the readers should go back a bit wiser for having read these books and the books a bit happier for having interacted with such bright and enthusiastic readers.