Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren, University of Washington, Bothell
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Place: Athipatti, a fictional South Indian village
Vellaisamy: Can I trouble you for a little water?
Vellaisamy: Why do you laugh when I ask you for water?
Kovalu: To ask a man for his wife is not a sin in this village. But to ask him for water is a great sin.
Thaneer Thaneer (Water!) Komal Swaminathan
“Dramatizing Water: Performance, Anthropology, and the Transnational” investigates how “dramatizing water” can act as a constellation that links the basic substance of life to translocal performances across a continuum that spans water in everyday life, in ritual, and as it appears on a formalized stage. A brief genealogy of examples is developed across the everyday and ritual, but the primary focus in on the late Tamil playwright Komal Swaminathan’s 1980 Thaneer Thaneer (Water!) and its relevance as a prototype for political drama on water. There is currently a profound global crisis around water distribution and “dramatizing water” indexes an attempt to chart the possibilities of moving toward a differently configured space for our water-practices, toward an alternative and more sustainable performative cartography of water.
Saddik M.Gohar, UAE University, UAE
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This paper aesthetically articulates the representation of the Palestinian city in modern Arabic poetry in order to argue that while Arab -and non-Arab poets-incorporate variety of attitudes toward the city , the presentation of the Palestinian city reveals a radical difference from the rest of Arabic and non-Arabic poetry due to the peculiar history of struggle, resistance and victimization characterizing life in the Palestinian metropolis. To the Palestinian poets, in particular, the city is part of a homeland they have lost or a refugee camp that has been resisting the invaders for decades. Contrary to western cities inhabited by alien residents such as Eliot’s Prufrock, or Arab cities populated by strangers, outsiders, whores, outcasts and political prisoners as in the literary cities of Badr Shaker Al-Sayyab and Ahmed Abdul-Muti Hejazi , the Palestinian city is inhabited by heroes and martyrs. These heroes who appear in contemporary Palestinian poetry and take different shapes personify the struggle and resistance of a nation that has frequently refused to surrender at times of crisis. Representing the spirit of the Palestinian people confronting a world replete with treachery and hypocrisy, the Palestinian city and its nameless heroes , in contemporary Arabic poetry, is an embodiment of an eternal and unlimited Palestinian dream , the dream of return, rebirth and liberation. In this context, the paper affirms that unlike Arab cities which are associated with decadence, corruption, exploitation and moral bankruptcy, the Palestinian city, due to the Palestinian history of exile, resistance, victimization and pain, is viewed in Arabic/Palestinian poetry as a location of heroism, struggle, defiance and martyrdom.
Jonathan Highfield, Rhode Island School of Design, Rhode Island, USA
Mulk Raj Anand’s Punjab trilogy–The Village (1939), Across the Black Waters (1940), and The Sword and the Sickle (1942)–speaks directly to the destruction of traditional agricultural systems under colonial rule and the absorption of the agricultural goods and human labor of India into a global economic system. The Punjab trilogy traces the life of a character searching for another India, an India free of oppression, misery, and classism. Lalu Singh looks at the situation in the Punjab from an ever-widening orbit, only to recognize that global movements devalue the very people they purport to help. In the end he rejects theory for action, returning to the peasant society he fled as a youth. His decision has resonance in the twenty-first century as formerly colonized regions face the neocolonial onslaught of biopiracy and genetic trait control technologies.