Fiction

Just Another Bus Ride — A Short Story by Aashna Jamal

Just Another Bus Ride — A Short Story by Aashna Jamal

“Just Another Bus Ride” is a story of a twelve year old girl in Srinagar who is very hungry at the close of school and worries about the bus ride home. Her thoughts are about how to best find a snack as she gets onto the bus. The bus finds itself in the middle of a tear gas shelling. The bus driver manoeuvres them out of it, with the children bewildered by the incident. The story tries to show how this child and her friends end up normalising the incident, and go on about their other childish preoccupations. This story was originally published by Muse India.

Crazy Old Jabar Khan Is Leaving Again — A Short Story by Ifreen Raveen

Crazy Old Jabar Khan Is Leaving Again — A Short Story by Ifreen Raveen

Set in Chakothi, a village halfway between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, Ifreen Raveen’s short story follows the life of Jabar Khan, an old man separated from his family during the partition of Kashmir between India and Pakistan. In focussing on the protagonist’s longing for reunion, Raveen produces a compelling piece of fiction that ascends from an individual’s struggle and grief into the collective state of those displaced and separated during the 1947 partition.

Mother Tongue — A Short Story by Muzaffar Karim

Mother Tongue — A Short Story by Muzaffar Karim

Muzaffar Karim presents a short story driven by language, the Kashmiri language, and with a protagonist about to embark on a journey. While waiting, Sultan Saeb voyages through his thoughts into the terrain of memory and into an inner world full of song, verse, and literature—all the while structuring a speech in his head to be delivered at the point of his destination, a Kashmiri language conference. Karim’s story is set in an airport, a transitory space ideal for ruminating and reminiscing, especially for a scholar of the Kashmiri language stuck waiting for a flight that has been “delayed due to bad weather.” The multiplicity found in this subtle piece of fiction complements the many complexities of a Kashmiri language that propels its plot, thematic undertones and narrative style.

Karamat Ali Khan and The Book of Memories — A Short Story by O. Kashmiri

Karamat Ali Khan and The Book of Memories — A Short Story by O. Kashmiri

In this fourth installment of the Karamat Ali Khan series of short stories, O. Kashmiri returns with a compelling fictional account of how Karamat gathered the news of killings, rapes, arrests, and disappearances in a collection of notebooks stored in his house in the Mountain Side. In an attempt to keep such horrific events from disappearing from public record and against forgetting, the old man risks his life well beyond his means and at the service of collective memory.

JABBER — A Fictional Piece by Juvaria Syed

JABBER — A Fictional Piece by Juvaria Syed

Juvaria Syed introduces a piece of fiction that is an attempted decalcomania of the ruminations of common Kashmiri people—an attempt to chart the dispersed wanderings, expressed in word, that form a variegated Kashmiri consciousness—ultimately resulting in a fictional text that is closer to reality than the framings of most mediatized constructions. The piece is shaped by nine sections that reveal fundamental preoccupations, misgivings, apprehensions, and cynicism that many readers will identify with and are felt during various periods of time. The tone registered in Syed’s fictional prose oscillates between cynical, satirical and parodic in certain parts so as to shed light on how closely the political is intertwined with the absurd in Kashmir. Beyond these limited and summarized descriptions, here is a piece of fiction that maintains a dialogue between the personal and the political. Along the same lines, Syed’s writing finds its creative form between heteroglossia and polyphony—while experimenting with style to give voice to narrators who otherwise are made to remain invisible or are subjected to constant erasures and silences that most Kashmiris are well-acquainted with. The piece is accompanied by a “Reference for Code Switching” (at the end) with the English translations of specific words and terms found in Syed’s writing.

Non-Fiction

Home Archaeology — by Rela Mazali

Home Archaeology — by Rela Mazali

A Jewish activist woman from Israel conducts an “archaeological dig” into her immediate physical surroundings and the sites of her successive homes. It recounts her slow unlearning of Zionist erasures both of the dispossession of Palestinians previously living at these sites and of the discrimination against and relegation into poverty of Mizrachi Jews (Jews of color) sent to live at them.

A gradual awakening to an unblinkered understanding of the context – historical, social, economic of where she lives, this fragment opens a window onto the reality that is (again) erupting in horrific violence in Palestine Israel today, in the spring of 2021.

The text is the 5th section of the novella-length essaytale, “Home Archaeology”, originally published in full in Hebrew in the collection “Home Archaeology: Essay Tales” and re-rendered into English by the author. This piece will appear in print at a later time in a three-part series to be published by the author.

Reporting News and Psychology — by Amir Sultan

Reporting News and Psychology — by Amir Sultan

As a researcher in Psychology, Amir Sultan writes about relevant concepts and terms developed in his field through academic research done on two particular cases of cold-blooded murder. The piece offers interesting observations about studies in Psychology that relate to the world of news reporting. Some of the events discussed and referenced via hyperlink to their direct sources are of a violent nature. Reader and viewer discretion is advised for those sensitive to such events covered widely in the news.

Jaun Elia: The Garbage Dump of History — Translated and Introduced by Muzaffar Karim

Jaun Elia: The Garbage Dump of History — Translated and Introduced by Muzaffar Karim

Academic and writer Muzaffar Karim translates and introduces Jaun Elia’s “The Garbage Dump of History,” a piece originally titled “Jannat Jahanam” in Urdu that appeared in Suspense Digest (July 2000). Karim’s introduction and subsequent translation situate international readers beyond Elia’s widely known poetic and academic work, bringing us closer to Elia’s thoughts on Kashmir before, during and after partition. In the process, Karim’s translation reveals a deep sense of empathy, expressed as irredeemable angst that the poet, scholar and philosopher felt for Kashmir and its people, and particularly its disenfranchised Muslim majority. By way of translation, Muzaffar Karim retrieves a piece of writing that serves as a relic or a historical document to register the desperation, angst and nihilism that has festered for decades as Kashmir has remained besieged and exiled from any semblance of peace. That that desperation and angst is expressed by Elia via this translation by Karim makes it even more symbolic of the hostile and unchanging times.

A Sketch of Rose Apples and Cats During Covid-19 Lockdown — by Saima Afreen

A Sketch of Rose Apples and Cats During Covid-19 Lockdown — by Saima Afreen

Under Covid-19 confinement, Saima Afreen presents a non-fiction piece written in a literary style that allows the writer to venture far beyond the subjects of its title, into an introspective engagement with her experiences and memories to the greater visions before her, in a ‘mind state’ of lockdown that is relatable to many yet communicable by few. The writer provides articulations that oscillate between poetic imagery and literary prose to shape an experience of preventive pandemic lockdown from the Indian cosmopolis, traversing into a territory outside of solitude and well past the quarantined self.

POETRY

Into the Wide Blue Sea — Two Poems by Arnab Chakraborty

Into the Wide Blue Sea — Two Poems by Arnab Chakraborty

Arnab Chakraborty presents two poems fueled by two of the greatest themes in literature—death as dissolution and love as captivity—both of which are addressed in an original manner. The first poem—in its dialogical approach of referencing a great literary character—follows the allusive tradition of other such poems, like Agha Shahid Ali’s “The Wolf’s Postscript to ‘Little Red Riding Hood’”, Carol Ann Duffy’s “Medusa” or Nazim Hikmet’s “Don Quijote” to name a few. The second poem detaches the reader from any habituated meanings or notions of love by relying on the power of metaphor and imagery—and in doing so revitalizes such meanings or notions.

Her foot is its own kind of tree — Four Poems by Robert Hirschfield

Her foot is its own kind of tree — Four Poems by Robert Hirschfield

When Robert Hirschfield was 37 years old, his mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Over the years he became her caregiver and eventually began a poetry project to honor her memory. Now at 82 years of age, the poet and journalist, world traveler and resident of New York, presents four such poems from an entire series that bear witness—through poetic remembrance—to his mother’s struggle. The four poems—that are part of a series currently in its sixth year—are featured here with New York-based contemporary artist Judith Lodge’s work.

The Dust Never Settles Down — A Poem by Saba Zahoor

The Dust Never Settles Down — A Poem by Saba Zahoor

On World Mental Health Day, Saba Zahoor presents a series of verses that venture into the center of struggles and experiences that remain difficult to communicate yet persist in the lives of millions throughout our human world.

Two Kashmiri Ghazals by Ather Zia

Two Kashmiri Ghazals by Ather Zia

Ather Zia recites two of her ghazals in Kashmiri for a people and their land, where the idea of a “prolonged longing” has emerged, such that time is always out of joint because space has been bent and constricted. It is in such spaces and under such circumstances where the poetic verse resists despair and gives form to grief, while sustaining hope. English transliteration courtesy of the poet, with photography by Masrat Zahra.

Film

Decolonizing Space: What The White Lotus and The Chair Get Wrong about Student Politics — by Shayoni Mitra

Decolonizing Space: What The White Lotus and The Chair Get Wrong about Student Politics — by Shayoni Mitra

In this piece, Shayoni Mitra, who teaches at Barnard College, Columbia University, provides a direly needed critique on two highly-watched and trending shows, The White Lotus (Netflix) and The Chair (HBO). While discussing what succeeds and stands out in both series, Dr. Mitra problematizes common fissures that reveal what is deeply absent from the plotlines, characterizations, and thematic undercurrents that respectively shape both of these popular series.

Nazi Hunters — The Complete Season 1 — Eight Episodes (Cineflix, 2011)

Nazi Hunters — The Complete Season 1 — Eight Episodes (Cineflix, 2011)

In a series of “real-life detective stories,” the eight episodes of “Nazi Hunters” relies on archival material and expert perspectives to present the capture of Nazi fugitives responsible for the genocide of millions of people (most of whom were Jews). The series brings to the screen the missions of “a select band of secret agents and avengers” who “hunted down some of the most evil men in history…and finally brought them to justice” after the end of World War II.

My Neighbourhood (2012) — A Documentary Film by Julia Bacha and Rebekah Wingert-Jabi

My Neighbourhood (2012) — A Documentary Film by Julia Bacha and Rebekah Wingert-Jabi

First released in 2012, “My Neighborhood” is a documentary film that follows the life of Mohammed El Kurd, “a Palestinian boy growing up in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in the heart of East Jerusalem. When Mohammed turns 11, his family is forced to give up part of their home to Israeli settlers, who are leading a campaign of court-sanctioned evictions to guarantee Jewish control of the area.”

Produced for Just Vision, an organization seeking to build peace between Palestinians and Israelis, the symbolic meaning of this film has ascended to greater historical importance given the current and horrific situation being lived in the neighborhood at the center of this film and by extension in the rest of Palestine.

More than a decade later, the producers of the film held an online screening on April 22, 2021, followed by a discussion about Sheikh Jarrah with the film’s protagonist, Mohammed El Kurd (now in his 20s), and Just Vision’s Director of Education and Outreach in Palestine and the film’s producer, Rula Salameh. The conversation was moderated by Just Vision’s Executive Director, Suhad Babaa.

Malcolm X: Make It Plain (1994) — by PBS

Malcolm X: Make It Plain (1994) — by PBS

On Malcolm X’s birthday, an elaborate documentary that explores his political life, his activism and the legacy of resistance he left behind for people around the world. The film gathers testimonials and accounts from his friends, family, and the journalists who knew him, along with archival footage of the man and the historical figure himself. The documentary was produced and aired by PBS on January 26, 1994. All rights reserved by Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

Roof Knocking (2017) — A Short Film Directed by Sina Salimi

Roof Knocking (2017) — A Short Film Directed by Sina Salimi

In war-stricken Palestine, a woman prepares a meal for her family to break the fast in the month of Ramadan. A phone call by an Israeli soldier alerts her of the bombing of her building in 10 minutes. Coming to accept her family’s fate is the only way she has to make a stand for her life, with grim consequences. Synopsis by Sergio Salazar. The film is based on a ‘standard procedure’ that was ‘innovated’ and put into effect by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) since 2008.

Music

Qafilah's Safarnama — A Song Review by Kashmir Music Live

Qafilah's Safarnama — A Song Review by Kashmir Music Live

Kashmir Music Live (KML) returns to Inverse Journal with a long due review of one of the most lyrically dynamic and musically diverse songs from the corpus of Kashmiri Hip Hop. Here is KML’s review of the song “Safarnama” by emerging Kashmiri Hip Hop artist Qafilah.

From Aalav to Almeeshaan — An Exclusive and Extended Interview with Zeeshaan Nabi

From Aalav to Almeeshaan — An Exclusive and Extended Interview with Zeeshaan Nabi

In this extensive interview, Zeeshaan Nabi—vocalist and multi-instrumentalist for the band Ramooz—discusses his latest solo release (Almeeshaan), his work as an independent musician and the virtues and struggles of working as an artist in the emerging contemporary Kashmiri music scene. Nabi further elaborates on his creative process, the subject-matter that shapes his music, and his varying roles as a solo artist, founding band member, studio producer, teacher, and musician driven by the need to constantly experiment and innovate in his evolving artistic practice. Accompanied by a variety of photographs, videos and media, this interview, a first of its kind, is the result of 22 questions emailed to the artist. It represents the dedicated standard at which Inverse Journal wishes to engage with the work of artists, creatives, and academics from multiple fields and backgrounds.

Ahmer’s Inqalab — An EP Review by Kashmir Music Live and Amjad Majid

Ahmer’s Inqalab — An EP Review by Kashmir Music Live and Amjad Majid

On a symbolic date such as this one, Kashmir Music Live and Amjad Majid present their review of Ahmer’s “Inqalab” EP that arrived in the aftermath of August 5, 2019—as a creative and artistic response to the conditions imposed on an entire Kashmiri population. In rebelling against the unmaking of a specific history, this timely musical release made a history of its own. In this joint review, Kashmir Music Live and Majid revisit the EP and discuss how that happened and the place that this singular musical work holds in the world of contemporary Kashmiri music.

On Gaekhir Republik and the Contemporary Kashmiri Music Scene — by Amjad Majid

On Gaekhir Republik and the Contemporary Kashmiri Music Scene — by Amjad Majid

Amjad Majid presents three live performances by Kashmiri music collective Gaekhir Republik that rescue the soul from the constructed time imposed on a subject confined to an equally constructed space, far removed from the Kashmir whose memory we struggle to keep palpitant. In the process, Majid addresses larger questions regarding contemporary Kashmiri music, locating Gaekhir Republik’s performances and musical style within developing notions of such music that this young generation of musicians is shaping along with their peers in the nascent contemporary Kashmiri music scene.

Art

Tricking a Text Into Speaking Your Language — Sixteen Blackout Poems by Asma Firdous

Tricking a Text Into Speaking Your Language — Sixteen Blackout Poems by Asma Firdous

Kashmiri blackout artist Asma Firdous presents sixteen blackout poems and works of word art that she has produced over a specific time. The piece comes with an extensive introduction by Amjad Majid (titled “Blackout Poetry in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: An Editor’s Introduction”) to familiarize viewers and readers with this artform and a statement by the poet and artist herself followed by the sixteen blackout poems.

Drawing Voices From a Well of Silence — Two Illustrative Works by Khytul Abyad

Drawing Voices From a Well of Silence — Two Illustrative Works by Khytul Abyad

Emerging Kashmiri artist Khytul Abyad brings us two of her illustrative works that can be viewed as standalone pieces or part of a greater patchwork that tells the story of her birthplace. Khytul has operated exclusively in the realm of Kashmiri contemporary art since her recent days as a student, working as a visual artist exploring different mediums and styles to develop a visual vocabulary of her own. Here she presents two pieces that venture into the realm of storytelling via illustration in line with the graphic novel. At the present, the graphic novel has yet to move beyond Sajad’s quintessential “Munnu” that set the stage, with other younger artists exploring the genre and medium through their own visual language and stylistic approaches to visual storytelling. Other visual storytellers who produce comics, political cartoons and illustrations have long maintained their signature styles and visual language without ever having the need or the desire to go into this long-form medium.

Such creative choices notwithstanding within that limited genre, another graphic novel, Naseer Ahmed’s “Kashmir Pending” with illustrations by India Today’s illustrator Suarabh Singh has followed as a work by multiple creators, Kashmiri and non-Kashmiri, reflecting the many directions that the Kashmir-themed or Kashmir-set graphic novel can take. However, as far as a graphic novel by one author and that too a young woman artist is concerned, Khytul’s artistic explorations presented here show promise in broadening the genre of the Kashmiri graphic novel even further, with an amplified diversification of sorts brought about in just over half a decade. With such considerations in mind, here are two storyboarded tales of fiction that permeate into a reality that is all too familiar to many Kashmiris. Such stories are located within the forgotten corridors of Kashmir’s everyday life, remaining unexpressed, silenced and made invisible up until young artists like Khytul engage their artistic sensibilities and artcraft to excavate the memory, experiences, and the lives of others, otherwise relegated to oblivion and brought to the fore by artistry such as Khytul Abyad’s.

This piece includes a note from the artist and relevant links from press  (courtesy of Inverse’s bibliographic approach) to familiarize viewers/readers about this young artist’s work.

Between the Personal and the Political — Two Art Projects by Akshay Sethi

Between the Personal and the Political — Two Art Projects by Akshay Sethi

In Akshay Sethi’s artistic oeuvre, the artwork can become a site of excavation, revelation and disambiguation, bringing forth visuals of that which otherwise remains undermined, ignored, unnoticed and relegated to a process of continued invisibilization—one that exists at the core of the everyday and the quotidian. Here the Delhi-based emerging artist presents a collection of his own works divided into two projects, with proper introductions and a few summarized commentaries about each set of works as part of Inverse Journal’s initiative to have artists of all generations write for themselves and present their work in their own words.

In these works, Sethi explores the fine line between the personal and the political, one that exists in a material form but that goes unperceived were it not for the creative impetus of the artist to frame a re-envisioning of the personal within the political—and vice versa—situated metaphorically in the object of art. Through the artistic medium, the young artist’s practice invites multiple inquiries into what otherwise would simply pass along as “day-to-day happenings” or a series of events confined to news reports and headlines that trend and subside into a collective oblivion or a collective memory—framed and curated by mainstream and mass media—once their trending impact has reached a specific shelf life. It is here that Sethi’s work interjects to excavate for a greater human profundity within the personal and the political to transcend event, subject, group, collective as mere ‘happening on the street’, breaking away from the quotidian limits set upon everyday life by a variety of circumstances and conditions. The result is a poetics that can best be observed in the works themselves as the young artist works to develop and refine his art practice.

To delve deeper into a greater human understanding, Sethi often engages with literature, poetry, news media, contemporary culture and tradition by shaping his works as points of convergence between these while imbuing such works with a spirit of critique where resistance and criticality can take shape in multiple ways. The young artist’s engagement with various forms of literature is essential to the meaning-making that fiction writing offers, in a world where many times sense and sensibility seem lacking or absent.

The Kimberley Coronavirus Animation — Feature and Interview with Director and Producer Bernadette Trench-Thiedeman

The Kimberley Coronavirus Animation — Feature and Interview with Director and Producer Bernadette Trench-Thiedeman

The Kimberley Coronavirus Animation combines the joint effort of contemporary artists and professionals, from filmmakers, directors, painters, animators, sound engineers, music composers to voice-over artists, performers, and translators, whose collaboration during quarantine has materialized in this community-specific piece of work to raise awareness and provide key contextual information. In our view, this effort sets an example on how artists, producers and creatives can come together to make use of their skills, experience and knowledge within their respective fields to combine creative forces to reach out to marginalized and dispossessed communities that face an altogether different set of challenges in this time of extreme vulnerability. Inverse Journal is proud to present the Kimberley Coronavius Animation that has been circulating widely around the internet and social media. Included is a feature interview with its producer, director and editor, Bernadette Trench-Thiedeman, to familiarize international audiences with the whole project, its specific cultural context, and the creative collaborations that made it possible.

Photography

Photo Essay: A 1950s Vintage Landmark Struggling to Stay Afloat in Srinagar’s Dalgate — by Mir Yasir Mukhtar

Photo Essay: A 1950s Vintage Landmark Struggling to Stay Afloat in Srinagar’s Dalgate — by Mir Yasir Mukhtar

Mir Yasir Mukhtar returns with an important photo essay detailing the struggle of a historic barbershop—the New Rose Beauty Salon—to stay afloat in Srinagar’s Tange-adda heritage market located in Dalgate. Established in 1953, the salon is run by two brothers, who inherited it from their father and have since strived to keep it functioning after four decades of operation—having already survived August 5 while barely making it across the still ongoing pandemic.

In Memoriam: One Day in the Life of Syed Ali Shah Geelani — A Photo Series by Sagar Kaul

In Memoriam: One Day in the Life of Syed Ali Shah Geelani — A Photo Series by Sagar Kaul

Taken in the winter at the beginning of 2015, Sagar Kaul presents 47 photographs documenting the day-to-day life of a man older than the partition. In doing so, Kaul brings to fore a side of Syed Ali Shah Geelani that had not been presented through image before. These visuals serve as an indelible marker of the memory that his loved ones and close associates and friends preserve forevermore. These photographs are published herein “in memoriam” to provide solace to those many in Kashmir and elsewhere who mourn his departure during these trying and difficult times.

A Buddhist Monastery of Kashmir Buried in the Past — by Manan Shah

A Buddhist Monastery of Kashmir Buried in the Past — by Manan Shah

Manan Shah revisits a heritage site that holds the answers to a significant number of questions about the presence and development of Buddhism in Kashmir’s lengthy history. As a student of archaeology and ancient history, Shah offers a core introduction to a site of great importance that was excavated in 1923. Till date, the Buddhist Monastery at Harwan remains a marker of a Kashmiri history that places the Himalayan territory as an important historic location for the convergence of multiple cultures. In its exposition, Shah’s piece also shows Kashmir’s inherent cultural sophistication through a reading of Harwan as an archaeological and historical site that provides a view into Kashmir’s past far beyond the mediatized discourses and reductive narratives that attempt to represent Kashmir within a limited scope of relevance and importance—as a mere socio-political appendage whose place in South Asian and Central Asian history remains posited on shaky ground. Perhaps inadvertently, this essential piece provides an introductory glace into a history where Kashmir is a center and not some territory within the margins set by others—and in that, a place frequently referenced by multiple visitors seeking both knowledge and answers. The piece features the author’s photography of the site that was included in the World History Encyclopedia (republished here via CC-NC-SA).

The Patronising Gaze of the Camera: The Problems with Constructing Visual Identity of Kashmiri Women Around Their Tears — by Sadaf Wani

The Patronising Gaze of the Camera: The Problems with Constructing Visual Identity of Kashmiri Women Around Their Tears — by Sadaf Wani

Previously translated into Bangla and published in Bama Patrika, a Bangla magazine on gender, Sadaf Wani’s piece explores the problems with creating and reproducing visual portrayals of Kashmiri women around their tears and moments of emotional vulnerability. Focusing on the practices of using photographs of grieving Kashmiri women to accessorize articles and events based around Kashmir, the piece discusses the insidiousness of such acts and how centering the visual identity of Kashmiri women only around certain kinds of visual portrayals contributes to the erasure of complex struggles and contributions of Kashmiri women.

This piece includes screenshots (provided by its author) from various sources, displayed here under “fair use” for illustrative purposes, with direct a citation for each source.

From the Streets of Kashmir to the Heart of Palestine — A Photograph by Zainab

From the Streets of Kashmir to the Heart of Palestine — A Photograph by Zainab

Earlier this week, a photograph was circulated on social media platforms (like Twitter and Facebook) showing a Kashmiri man marching with a Palestinian flag through the streets of Srinagar. Those who posted the photo did not give its author her proper credit nor indicate the source of such a powerful image, resulting in yet another case of copyright infringement and outright creative theft.

Inverse Journal got in touch with Zainab, the photographer of this iconic scene. Here she presents the photograph along with her account of how such image-making came about in line with the tradition of visual storytelling that speaks more profoundly than words perhaps could—especially on a sad occasion such as Nakba Day (Dhikra an-Nakba). Zainab’s photograph carries even greater symbolic meaning when considering that she produced it while documenting—by pure chance—the remains of an Al-Quds Day (Youm-e Quds) march in Kashmir that is carried out on the last Friday of Ramadan to show support for Palestine and its people and to protest Zionism.

As such, Zainab’s photograph situates two major commemorative days (Dhikra an-Nakba and Youm-e Quds) in one frame as she captures the heartfelt scene on the streets of Srinagar (Kashmir) to reflect the great sense of solidarity that Kashmiris feel towards Palestine and its dispossessed people. As can be observed, the image is taken with a mobile camera, and is raw in all aspects, much like the sentiment of solidarity that is felt around the world and especially in a place like Kashmir that knows sorrow and loss all too deeply.

Along with the her note, Inverse Journal has included relevant links to Zainab’s broader work.

Books

A Movement in Kashmir’s Historiography: Reviewing Khalid Bashir’s Kashmir: Looking Back in Time — Dr. Javid Ahmad Ahanger

A Movement in Kashmir’s Historiography: Reviewing Khalid Bashir’s Kashmir: Looking Back in Time — Dr. Javid Ahmad Ahanger

Dr. Javid Ahmad Ahanger reviews Khalid Bashir Ahmad’s “Kashmir: Looking Back in Time (Politics, Culture, History)” (Atlantic, 2021) situating the author’s work within a larger tradition of historiography. In the process, Dr. Ahanger evaluates Bashir’s book for the value it adds to Kashmiri scholarship during contemporary times while visiting some of the core topics and ideas that the text unveils or that had not been considered previously with the type of historical analysis it brings to fore.

Rumours of Spring – A Commentary by Tabish Rafiq Mir

Rumours of Spring – A Commentary by Tabish Rafiq Mir

Originally published on his personal blog, Tabish Rafiq Mir shares with us a timely review (that is more of an inspired response) to Farah Bashir’s “Rumours of Spring” (Harper Collins, 2021). In not sticking to conventions, Tabish divides his response into eleven sections, each of which provide new insights to contextualize the importance of Bashir’s text situated within a broader history. Writing such as this reminds of the type of engagement dedicated readers will have with memoirs, reminding us that reading a memoir entails entering the space of voyage within time and place, in the contours of what is recollected and remembered. Such remembrance, as personal as it may be, is for many a collective one, making Farah Bashir’s memoir as relatable as the commentary in response that Tabish Rafiq Mir is inspired to put on paper. From a personal narration, the history of an entire peoples can be retrieved, such that personal and collective experience are revealed to be intertwined, as is customary with the genre. However, in this mode, Bashir’s text stands out as an abstraction that allows for a necessary distance required to reflect and revisit the everyday lived reality of Kashmir over the last decades, while simultaneously remaining immersed in that concrete world through its honest narration that requires no embellishments. The result is an elaborate reminder for readers to never allow for the continued normalization of an imposed state that not only shaped but confined Kashmir’s collective memory in very specific and strategic ways. Whether we carry our memories or whether our memories carry us is perhaps indistinguishable when it comes to Bashir’s book, especially when subjective experience is detailed with such authenticity that it verbalizes that which many others rendered speechless or exiled from expression have gone through. With each word measured, Tabish’s commentary sheds light on this and many other aspects of Farah’s memoir, establishing it as one of the most significant books within its genre to have arrived till date. Inverse Journal has included an independently curated list of links relevant to the book and its author.

WHO KILLED MY SON: The Wounded Spectators of the 1990s — An Excerpt from Freny Manecksha's Behold, I Shine: Narratives of Kashmir’s Women and Children (Rupa Publications, 2017)

WHO KILLED MY SON: The Wounded Spectators of the 1990s — An Excerpt from Freny Manecksha's Behold, I Shine: Narratives of Kashmir’s Women and Children (Rupa Publications, 2017)

Inverse Journal presents Chapter 3 of Freny Manecksha’s seminal text on the women and children of Kashmir, that as much as a book is also a map of human stories bearing witness to suffering, struggle, perseverance, and hope. Inverse Journal has included a visual bibliography on articles, reviews and media relevant to the book and its author. This excerpt from Behold, I Shine: Narratives of Kashmir’s Women and Children (2017) is published in our Books section with permission from its author and by courtesy of the book’s publisher, Rupa Publications.

BOOK EXCERPT: Resisting Disappearance: Military Occupation & Women's Activism in Kashmir (Zubaan, 2020) — by Ather Zia

BOOK EXCERPT: Resisting Disappearance: Military Occupation & Women's Activism in Kashmir (Zubaan, 2020) — by Ather Zia

Inverse Journal presents an excerpt from the first chapter (“The Politics of Mourning”) of Resisting Disappearance: Military Occupation & Women’s Activism in Kashmir (Zubaan, 2020) by Ather Zia. These selections are part of a book produced from the combination of rigorous academic research and a decade of robust fieldwork coupled with the capacity to present ethnography through a poetic language that the text internally innovates upon.

Along with a poem at end of the book’s introduction, Inverse Journal has included an independently curated visual bibliography with links and media relevant to the book and its author.

Reading The Book Thief in Kashmir — A Review by Toiba Paul

Reading The Book Thief in Kashmir — A Review by Toiba Paul

Toiba Paul presents her review of “The Book Thief”, the best-selling novel by Markus Zusak that was also adapted into a popular film. Toiba’s review more specifically addresses the commonalities of the human experience shared between those who lived in wartime Germany with the Nazi regime in power and those who have live in Kashmir. While no direct analogy is perfect, the review focuses on individual experiences and suffering brought about by war and relates these back and forth between the world depicted in the novel and the world that surrounds people living in Kashmir. Since literature and fiction are particularly adept in communicating individual experiences of circumstances as vast as war, Paul is effective in conveying the similitude that exists between the Kashmiri experience under war with that of the characters in Zusak’s novel. In doing so, the young writer makes a compelling case for why “The Book Thief” should be read widely in Kashmir and how it can help contextualize the unaddressed experiences of those who live or have had to live under brutal violence and repression.

Academia

Decolonizing Space: What The White Lotus and The Chair Get Wrong about Student Politics — by Shayoni Mitra

Decolonizing Space: What The White Lotus and The Chair Get Wrong about Student Politics — by Shayoni Mitra

In this piece, Shayoni Mitra, who teaches at Barnard College, Columbia University, provides a direly needed critique on two highly-watched and trending shows, The White Lotus (Netflix) and The Chair (HBO). While discussing what succeeds and stands out in both series, Dr. Mitra problematizes common fissures that reveal what is deeply absent from the plotlines, characterizations, and thematic undercurrents that respectively shape both of these popular series.

The Patronising Gaze of the Camera: The Problems with Constructing Visual Identity of Kashmiri Women Around Their Tears — by Sadaf Wani

The Patronising Gaze of the Camera: The Problems with Constructing Visual Identity of Kashmiri Women Around Their Tears — by Sadaf Wani

Previously translated into Bangla and published in Bama Patrika, a Bangla magazine on gender, Sadaf Wani’s piece explores the problems with creating and reproducing visual portrayals of Kashmiri women around their tears and moments of emotional vulnerability. Focusing on the practices of using photographs of grieving Kashmiri women to accessorize articles and events based around Kashmir, the piece discusses the insidiousness of such acts and how centering the visual identity of Kashmiri women only around certain kinds of visual portrayals contributes to the erasure of complex struggles and contributions of Kashmiri women.

This piece includes screenshots (provided by its author) from various sources, displayed here under “fair use” for illustrative purposes, with direct a citation for each source.

A Buddhist Monastery of Kashmir Buried in the Past — by Manan Shah

A Buddhist Monastery of Kashmir Buried in the Past — by Manan Shah

Manan Shah revisits a heritage site that holds the answers to a significant number of questions about the presence and development of Buddhism in Kashmir’s lengthy history. As a student of archaeology and ancient history, Shah offers a core introduction to a site of great importance that was excavated in 1923. Till date, the Buddhist Monastery at Harwan remains a marker of a Kashmiri history that places the Himalayan territory as an important historic location for the convergence of multiple cultures. In its exposition, Shah’s piece also shows Kashmir’s inherent cultural sophistication through a reading of Harwan as an archaeological and historical site that provides a view into Kashmir’s past far beyond the mediatized discourses and reductive narratives that attempt to represent Kashmir within a limited scope of relevance and importance—as a mere socio-political appendage whose place in South Asian and Central Asian history remains posited on shaky ground. Perhaps inadvertently, this essential piece provides an introductory glace into a history where Kashmir is a center and not some territory within the margins set by others—and in that, a place frequently referenced by multiple visitors seeking both knowledge and answers. The piece features the author’s photography of the site that was included in the World History Encyclopedia (republished here via CC-NC-SA).

Decolonization: A Starter Kit + Notes on Fake Decolonization — by Bhakti Shringarpure

Decolonization: A Starter Kit + Notes on Fake Decolonization — by Bhakti Shringarpure

Dr. Bhakti Shringarpure of University of Connecticut is the editor-in-chief of Warscapes Magazine and specializes in literary and cultural studies, decolonization, gender studies and the Cold War. In this video Dr. Shringarpure gives an overview on decolonization and how it has suddenly became a buzzword in a conversation with Dr. Amrita Ghosh. The video is embedded directly from The Space Ink YouTube channel. Additionally, we have included Dr. Shringarpure’s article “Notes on Fake Decolonization” that asks important questions about what counts as ‘authentic’ decolonization “as the term takes over our social media and influencer bubbles?” The article also provides insight on “how we can sharpen our activism.” Republished from Africa is a Country via exclusive permission by its author. Also included is an independently curated visual bibliography by Inverse Journal with some of the important work produced by Dr. Shringapure over the years.

On Frantz Fanon, Postcolonial and Middle Eastern Studies, and Palestine and Kashmir — Anthony Alessandrini in Conversation with Amrita Ghosh

On Frantz Fanon, Postcolonial and Middle Eastern Studies, and Palestine and Kashmir — Anthony Alessandrini in Conversation with Amrita Ghosh

Dr. Amrita Ghosh presents the transcript for an exclusive interview and conversation with Professor Anthony Alessandrini (City University of New York, USA) conducted on October 28, 2020, as a part of a MA course on Postcolonial theory that Dr. Ghosh taught during Fall 2020 as a visiting lecturer at Linnaeus University (LNU). The transcript is the result of an online conversation on Decolonization, Fanon, Middle Eastern Studies and multiple commentaries that include Professor Alessandrini’s views on Palestine and Kashmir. Inverse Journal has included a list of relevant links for those interested in engaging further with Professor Alessandrini’s work, research and academic writing.

Acquaintance

Kashmir Meet After Two Years of Ruin: A Reckoning or a New Tack? — by Muzamil Jaleel

Kashmir Meet After Two Years of Ruin: A Reckoning or a New Tack? — by Muzamil Jaleel

In this timely piece (featured in our opinions and perspectives section), Muzamil Jaleel poses and evaluates two essential questions: Is New Delhi’s outreach to pro-India parties a tactical step to normalise the devastating changes introduced in J&K since August 5, 2019? Has the Sangh Parivar’s Kashmir project run up against a roadblock or has it been compelled by international players to change course?

Seven Times Parveena Ahangar Spoke About Being a Mother Looking for Her Son

Seven Times Parveena Ahangar Spoke About Being a Mother Looking for Her Son

On August 18th of 1990, at 2 a.m., Parveena Ahangar’s 17-year-old son Javaid Ahmed was taken by a specialized counter-insurgency group (the National Security Guards of the Indian Army) during a night raid at her neighborhood in Batamaloo, Srinagar. Since then, she has not stopped seeking justice and answers from the state as to the whereabouts of her son and of so many Kashmiris subjected to enforced disappearance (approximately 8000 to 10,000 according to multiple sources). As the days and months passed since that 18th of August, Parveena, who had only been to school only till the 5th grade, learned how to speak languages other than her native Kashmiri in the hope of getting answers from the state. She learned Urdu and Hindi to the extent of becoming conversant in English terms and vocabularies used in government documents in state offices, in legal papers found in courts, in reports from police stations, and in records from prisons. In the process, she faced soldiers, state officials, advocates, judges, police officers, members of the press, and anyone who could give her any information about her son—all the while learning to speak the languages of those who had abducted her teenage son. The terms “went from pillar to post” and “corner to corner” have routinely been used in articles from the Kashmiri press in a multitude of ways, and in time have become synonymous to the efforts and dedication that Parveena put into seeking her son’s return and that of so many others whose families have been left in despair. Here are seven times when Parveena, as a mother and as the Founder and Chairperson of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, spoke of the struggles of such Kashmiri families whose plight is deeply tied to her own.

Social Media and Commodifying Empathy in the Covid-era — by Dr. Amrita Ghosh

Social Media and Commodifying Empathy in the Covid-era — by Dr. Amrita Ghosh

This article traces various social media expressions during the ongoing pandemic and asks the overarching question: how should one understand, express and practice compassion and empathy in this new context of global – yet differential and graded – uncertainty, loss and suffering? It focuses on the unfamiliar shift of entire populations across the globe from physical, tangible spaces to a virtual, online presence and the consequent issue of what norms, rules and ethics govern this online area of expression and action during a pandemic. Caught between an either-or narrative between a display of privileged quarantine living, a sense of empathy for the marginalized or a downright lack of it, the article observes that social media responses to the pandemic produce a ‘competitive performative compassion.’ It argues that such compassion becomes fetishist and results in the very thing that the expressed compassion was meant to counter, that is, continued unequal suffering. This article was first published in Lund University, SASNET journal Chakra: A Nordic Journal of South Asian Studies, Special Issue: Articulations of a Pandemic (2020 ISSN 1652-0203) and is published here via permission by the author.

Freedom Through Untouchability: A Letter to Kashmiris — by Murad Saleem

Freedom Through Untouchability: A Letter to Kashmiris — by Murad Saleem

A deeply embedded sense of existential threat has surrounded Kashmiris from multiple directions, materializing in varying challenges and struggles throughout their history. This letter by Murad Saleem, published in Inverse Journal’s Acquaintance (opinions/perspectives) section, addresses and problematizes such an existential threat, taking into account the struggles that Kashmiris face and the different strategies of resistance that can coalesce to carry a dispossessed people forward. As its messenger, the author of the letter has gathered words of wisdom spanning several centuries and generations, effectively delivering wisdom of his own to his fellow Kashmiris back home.