Sultana’s Dream and Padmarag (Essence of the Lotus)

Ibtisam Ahmed

Edited by Karl Egerton

Art by Priyanka Meenakshi https://www.priyankameenakshi.com/

Utopianism has been a part of Western academia since the work of Lyman Tower Sargent in the 1970s. Taking its etymological roots from Thomas More’s Utopia, it is an interdisciplinary subject that explores human hopes and imagination in radical ways. It aims to build a better tomorrow by criticising the past and the present. It has a broad emancipatory potential which draws in a wide range of scholarship. As an avowed utopianist, I am proud to have my work counted in this field. Yet utopianism is often lacking in racial and cultural diversity. This is a major failing in a field that is supposed to be about challenging oppressive norms.

One of the reasons for this is because of the sources in the canon. Although modern works include writers of colour such as Octavia Butler, there is an assumption that classical utopian literature is almost exclusively white and male. Yet this leaves out a diverse range of texts that imagine the scope of human hope in intersectional ways. An author whose work I feel challenges this white Eurocentrism is Rokeya Shakhawat Hossain. Known in Bangladesh as Begum Rokeya, her life is taught extensively in middle school but is surprisingly absent in later education. Having first studied her biography in History when I was in my early teens, I rediscovered her work in the course of researching my thesis.

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Launch Night Excerpts

Art by Priyanka Meenakshi https://www.priyankameenakshi.com/

We celebrated Project Myopia with a beautiful launch event towards the end of semester 2. It was a night of music and poetry, as well as an opportunity for some of our contributors to elaborate on their essays and ideas. Our performers touched on a wide range of serious issues: from the exclusion of racial minorities’ contribution to the canon of literature, to the oppressive nature of zero-hour contracts that prevent tutors from being able to fully engage in helping all students get ahead, let alone those from a minority background who need assistance most. We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who performed and shared their experiences, and we also have to thank everyone who attended and helped us drink the wine we provided! Project Myopia aims to bring marginalized people together and amplify their voices, and our launch felt like a perfect culmination of our semester’s work: people came together and shared their experiences of an academic world we need to change.

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Arekti Premer Golpo (Just Another Love Story)

Ibtisam Ahmed

Edited by Avani Udgaonkar

Art: ‘377’ by Laila Borrie https://www.facebook.com/underthepeacocktree/

Film image at https://bppostscript.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/dsc_007872.jpg

In 2009, the Delhi High Court ruled that the colonial-era anti-homosexuality law, Section 377, was unconstitutional and, therefore, void. In 2013, the Indian Supreme Court ruled that the High Court does not have constitutional jurisdiction and reinstated the law. The four-year period between these judicial decisions remains the only time in the history of the former British Raj (India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, as well as Sri Lanka under British Ceylonese jurisdiction) that openly queer sexuality was not punishable by law. The 2010 release of the Bengali film, Arekti Premer Golpo (Just another Love Story), the first ever post-377 film that explores these identities, provides an interesting examination of queerness from an Indian perspective that is not palatable apologia, misconceived and prejudicial humour, or radical subversion. Rather, it explores the various ways in which queerness can be experienced in the region in an organic and personal way – and I specifically say queerness instead of LGBTQIA because the acronym does not speak to the spirit of different sexualities and genders that make the community in India so vibrant, even in its oppression.

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‘Cashmere’ by the Swet Shop Boys

Ketaki Zodgekar

Edited by Karli Wessale

Art by Raj Dhunna http://rajdhunna.co.uk/

Cashmere is a rap album by the ‘Swet Shop Boys’: a duo comprised of Riz Ahmed, a British actor, known for his work in ‘Four Lions’ and Heems, an American rapper, known for being a member of ‘Das Racist’, both are of South Asian descent. The Swet Shop Boys rap about contemporary social and political issues which face the South Asian diaspora, sound tracked by traditional music from the Indian Subcontinent.

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Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Snigdha Koirala
Editing by Avani Udgaonkar

Art by The Ink Wave http://www.theinkwave.com/index.html

I first came across Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies while in search of more female South Asian voices in literature. And since first reading her collection, my relationship with her work has developed into one of communion – one of personal and emotional resonance. Lahiri explores the lives of Indian immigrants, attempting to bridge the gap between two places that are simultaneously foreign and familiar – places that are of belonging and of isolation. And given my own history of such attempts (having been born in Nepal, raised in Canada, and now living in Scotland), it didn’t take long for my aforementioned communion to develop with Lahiri’s stories.   

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