KPC was invited to the St Kabir School in Chandigarh to conduct a visual and media literacy workshop titled Reframing the Kashmir Valley in the Classroom: Critical Thinking about Photography at a two-day conference with History for Peace—An initiative of The Seagull Foundation for the Arts, that aimed to nourish, enrich and bring interesting innovative ideas into social science classrooms through a series of lectures, discussions and workshops for school teachers from across Punjab.
Alisha Sett and Shafat Farooq engaged the audience of over seventy school teachers—organized into groups of seven at twelve tables—in an absorbing workshop that involved providing exercises and resources to incorporate visual and media literacy in their classrooms with ease. Images focused on the Kashmir Valley from the KPC archive dating back to the late nineteenth century, historic images taken by Magnum photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, as well as more recent photographic works (that are more ambiguous with regards to their documentary value) were distributed to be "read". After doing a detailed visual analysis of a few images, the teachers were asked to imagine themselves in the following situation: Each table is representative of the photo editorial team of India's leading national newspaper and we are in 2046, two hundred years from the signing of the Treaty of Amritsar in which the Valley was officially bought by Maharaja Gulab Singh and the territory of Jammu, Ladakh, and Kashmir as we know them today were stitched together for the first time. As editors, how would they represent the two hundred year history of the Kashmir Valley using a selection of just five or six images? What kind of image would make the front page? Would they repeat the rhetorical visual tropes used by the media - stone pelting, barbed wire, the Dal lake full of shikaras - or use more allusive frames? What would be the reasons for their choices of one image over another? What did the captions say about the photos that could not be seen within them? Over the next hour and a half the participants were compelled to confront their own biases, and share their differing readings of this history, as Sett and Farooq moved among them, concluding with presentations by the teachers encapsulating their discussions. The session was wrapped up with KPC sharing their knowledge of easily accessible digital photographic resources.