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Smudge on an Illuminated Manuscript: a Postcolonial Reading of Shalimar the Clown

Javaid Bhat, University of Kashmir

Abstract:

This Paper begins with Timothy Brennan’s riposte to Amir Mehmud and Sara Suleri, underlining, simultaneously, the problem of Post colonialism as described by Brennan. His rather hasty definition is used to underscore the different postcolonial propensity in Pachigam, a fictional village created by Salman Rusdie in the novel Shalimar the Clown (henceforth SC). This village is posited as hybrid, fluid, and a space marked by difference. It is a typical but not an unproblematic post colonial space, one which Brennan ignores in his categorical definition of post colonialism. Finally, the essay highlights the essentially ambiguous relationship of Pachigam, a microcosm of Kashmir, with the larger ‘postcolonial’, ‘post-imperial’ entities of India and Pakistan.

Pan Arabism and the Question of Palestine: A Reading of Yasmine Zahran’s A Beggar at Damascus Gate

Kaustav Mukherjee, Michigan State University

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Abstract:

The narrative of Yasmine Zahran’s novel, A Beggar at Damascus Gate, situates the political ideology of Nasser’s pan Arab project as a cultural construct. It reveals the Palestinian history as seen from the different ideological perspectives of the two protagonists. I dwell into the ideas of pan Arabism and why for Rayya, the female protagonist of the novel, Palestine’s fortune is inextricably linked with the pan Arab movement. The narrative tries to give two vantage points of looking at the question of Palestine—one of a Palestinian revolutionary and the other of a British spy. It tries to promote the idea that the solution to the question is embedded within the ideological cooperation between them, while the hurt of history makes it seemingly impossible to bridge the differences.

Narratives of Diaspora and Exile in Arabic and Palestinian Poetry

Saddik M. Gohar, United Arab Emirates University

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Abstract

This paper underlines the attitudes of Palestinian / Arab poets toward the issues of exile and identity integral to their traumatic experience of Diaspora and displacement. From a historical context  and within the parameters of colonial / postcolonial theory , the paper  advocates a new critical perspective exploring the dialectics of exile and identity in Palestinian / Arabic poetry in order to argue that  exile , in contemporary world literature ,  becomes  a signifier  not only  of living  outside  one’s homeland but also of  the  condition caused by such physical absence. Aiming to reach a state of reconciliation rather than conflict, the poetic voices, analyzed in the paper, reflect a sense of nostalgia and emotional attachment toward their homeland. The paper  argues that Palestine, for  the Palestinian poets, is not  a paradise or an idealistic utopia that only exists in  their  poetry and  imagination but  a geographical reality caught up in national and religious limbos  and rooted in the trajectories of colonial history and diabolical  power  politics.

Stillness of star-less nights: Afghan Women’s Poetry of Exile

Rumpa Das, Maheshtala College, South 24 Parganas, India

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 Abstract

Contemporary English poetry by Afghan women presents a remarkable reading experience. Critical explorations, at ease with post-colonial conditions, minority solitude and feminist readings, have largely remained inimical to the unique, yet chequered history that women poets such as Zohra Saed, Sahar Muradi, Sara Hakeem, Fatana Jahangir Ahrary, Fevziye Rahzigar Barlas and Donia Gobar document in their works. Most of them write in their native Dari and Pushtun languages as well as in English and often their English compositions have smatterings of their native tongues. Even though individual experiences differ, these women delve into the collective memory of oppression, pain and unrest to give vent to their feelings, and seek to reach out towards a sorority of shared angst. This paper seeks to explore the complex cultural contexts which have given birth to Afghan women’s poetry in exile.

Rules of Language in Rules of the House: Study of Tsering Wangmo Dhompa’s Tibetan English Poetry

Shelly Bhoil, Research Scholar, Barzil

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Abstract

The displacement of Tibetans in exile has also displaced the Tibetan language to some extent among the new generation of Tibetans who are born or educated in exile. However, with the new languages and forms of expression in exile, they are negotiating their culture, identity and aspirations. Tsering Wangmo Dhompa, the first Tibetan woman poet in English to be published in the West, is one of the representative voices of New Tibetan Literature in English (NTLE). Her first book of poems Rules of the House was a finalist for the Asian American Literary Awards in 2003, and brought NTLE to academic attention. This paper is a thematic study of the philosophical and the social aspects of language in the poems from Rules of the House.

Exploring Dickens through a Director’s Lens: a Study of the Cinematic Presentation of A Tale of Two Cities

Gatha Sharma, Shiv Nadar University, Gautam Budh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh

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 An interesting thing always noticed by avid movie-buffs is when one watches a movie made on a novel, automatically one starts identifying characters of the novel with the actors who have played those characters. Actors give new identity and life to the characters hitherto without any proper face or shape, enclosed in the black alphabets and yellow pages of the books. This paper is an attempt to see how the complex art of Charles Dickens find expression through cinema. A Tale of Two Cities is one of the two historical novels written by Charles Dickens. Attempting historical fiction is a tough task. Author has to shift back mentally to those ages and keep track of not only historical but also political, social, economic and spiritual environment of those times. Historically, A Tale of Two Cities has tried to capture extremely volatile years of French Revolution. Impacts of French Revolution were far-reaching and had been felt for many decades afterwards by Europe and later became an inspiration to many freedom movements in Asia, Africa and Russia. Praise to Charles Dickens for attempting such a story and also to all those directors who tried to portray such a razzmatazz on the big screen.

What is Performance Studies?

Richard Schechner, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

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Because performance studies is so broad-ranging and open to new possibilities, no one can actually grasp its totality or press all its vastness and variety into a single writing book. My points of departure are my own teaching, research, artistic practice, and life experiences.

Performances are actions. As a discipline, performance studies takes actions very seriously in four ways. First, behavior is the “object of study” of performance studies. Although performance studies scholars use the “archive” extensively – what’s in books, photographs, the archaeological record, historical remains, etc. – their dedicated focus is on the “repertory,” namely, what people do in the activity of their doing it. Second, artistic practice is a big part of the performance studies project. A number of performance studies scholars are also practicing artists working in the avant-garde, in community-based performance, and elsewhere; others have mastered a variety of non-Western and Western traditional forms. The relationship between studying performance and doing performance is integral. Third, fieldwork as “participant observation” is a much-prized method adapted from anthropology and put to new uses. In anthropological fieldwork, participant observation is a way of learning about cultures other than that of the field-worker. In anthropology, for the most part, the “home culture” is Western, the “other” non-Western. But in performance studies, the “other” may be a part of one’s own culture (non-Western or Western), or even an aspect of one’s own behavior. That positions the performance studies fieldworker at a Brechtian distance, allowing for criticism, irony, and personal commentary as well as sympathetic participation. In this active way, one performs fieldwork. Taking a critical distance from the objects of study and self invites revision, the recognition that social circumstances– including knowledge itself – are not fixed, but subject to the “rehearsal process” of testing and revising. Fourth, it follows that performance studies is actively involved in social practices and advocacies. Many who practice performance studies do not aspire to ideological neutrality. In fact, a basic theoretical claim is that no approach or position is “neutral”. There is no such thing as unbiased. The challenge is to become as aware as possible of one’s own stances in relation to the positions of others – and then take steps to maintain or change positions.

The “Politically Correct Memsahib”: Performing Englishness in Select Anglo-Indian Advice Manuals

S. Vimala, M.G.R. College, Hosur, India

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Abstract

Examining select Anglo-Indian advice manuals written after the Indian Mutiny in 1857and during the ‘high imperialism’ period of the British Raj, the essay proposes that this cultural artefact served the purpose of constructing and naturalizing the English Memsahibs’ gendered racial identity. By reiterating the performance of gender, class and race imperatives to construct a unique identity prerequisite for the Anglo-Indian community as well as the Indian colony, these texts aimed at the crystallization of this identity that will strengthen the idea of the British Raj. Such reiteration- apart from revealing the imperial anxiety of the subversion of the Memsahib identity- were useful to caution the English women new to the colonial environment.  Reading these Anglo-Indian advice manuals produced for the consumption of the Anglo-Indian community, what the essay further proposes is that the performance of gendered-racial identity of the English women in India constituted not only the governance of their bodies and the Anglo-Indian spaces, but also their management of travel and material consumption including food.  Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble and Bodies That Matter provide useful insights to study the performance of the “politically correct Memsahib” identity and its attendant relation to the imagining of the homogenous British Raj.   

People’s Art or Performance of the Elites?: Debating the History of IPTA in Bengal

Binayak Bhattacharya, EFL University, Hyderabad

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Abstract

This article attempts to re-read the cultural history of the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) within the larger context of the progressive nationalist politics of Bengal. The purpose of this re-reading is to engage in a debate to locate the political status of the various non-urban, non-elite, non-middle class performative practices within the political strata of IPTA. The article reiterates that the Left politics of Bengal maintained an inseparable alliance with the Bhadralok class since its early days and by virtue of this alliance, the hegemony of the Bhdraloks remained secured. Consequently, within the practical domain of the Left politics vis-a-vis the IPTA, the middle class intelligentsia kept controlling the performative arena by restraining the movements of various non-Bhadralok forms. By citing references from the writings of Sudhi Pradhan and Hemango Biswas, this article contemplates to enter into a lesser-known chapter from the glorified history of IPTA.

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