UMass Lowell Names Indigenous Peoples Activist Barla as 2023 Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies

Indigenous peoples activist Dayamani Barla will be UMass Lowell’s 2023 Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies in residence next month. (Courtesy photograph.)

Known as the “Iron Lady of Jharkhand,” Indigenous peoples and climate justice and activist Dayamani Barla has been named UMass Lowell’s 2023 Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies.

Barla is described as an Adivasi journalist, feminist and resistance leader who works to end the displacement of India’s Indigenous peoples due to state violence and industrial expansion. She visits the university next month to lead programs for students and the public that spotlight this cause and the many others she advances.

“Her work for Indigenous, environmental and gender justice reminds us that the struggle for a more peaceful world unites us all,” said UMass Lowell’s Sue Kim, an English professor who co-directs the university’s Center for Asian American Studies and serves as the associate dean of undergraduate studies in the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

According to the University, Barla’s activism is rooted in the Adivasi peoples’ right to self-determination. Over several decades, she has led political movements against multinational corporations proposing hydroelectric power and steel plant projects, which would displace the Adivasi people and destroy the forests and waterways integral to their way of life.

“We Indigenous communities believe that our history, language, culture, sacred religious sites, our identity and history cannot ever be rehabilitated. Nor can it ever be compensated for,” Barla said.

While in residence at UMass Lowell, Barla will visit classrooms across campus to meet with students and share her story. She will also be the keynote speaker at three events in Lowell.

On Thursday, April 6, 1:30 p.m., Barla discusses “Jal, Jungle, Zameen, Sangharsh (Water, Forest, Land, Struggle): Stories of Adivasi Resistance and Survival” at UMass Lowell’s annual Day Without Violence The free program will be held in the university’s Coburn Hall, Room 255, South Campus, 850 Broadway St., Lowell. Barla meets and answers questions from the public Friday, April 7, 1 p.m., at African Community Center of Lowell, 99 Church St., Lowell. On Thursday, April 13, 8 a.m., Barla presents “Personal Inspiration in the Struggle for Justice: Reflections from an Adivasi/Indigenous Activist,” at a free public event to be held remotely and hosted by the Greater Lowell Interfaith Leadership Alliance. Those who wish to attend may access a Zoom link here.

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