Fiction

POETÈ MAUDIT — A Short Story by Muzaffar Karim

POETÈ MAUDIT — A Short Story by Muzaffar Karim

In this short story that commences at “the holy steps” of the Makhdoom Sahib shrine in Srinagar, a disgruntled character surprises the author of what he considers to be an unfinished tale.

Disclaimer: any resemblance to reality is purely fictional in this short story. For more, readers are advised to check the Editorial Disclaimer.

When the Light Dawned by Somnath Zutshi — A Book Excerpt from The Greatest Kashmiri Short Stories Ever Told (trans. Neerja Mattoo, Aleph, 2022)

When the Light Dawned by Somnath Zutshi — A Book Excerpt from The Greatest Kashmiri Short Stories Ever Told (trans. Neerja Mattoo, Aleph, 2022)

We are proud to present Somnath Zutshi’s short story “When the Light Dawned” excerpted from The Greatest Kashmiri Short Stories Ever Told (Aleph, 2022) selected and translated by Neerja Mattoo. Inverse Journal has independently curated a visual bibliography of links relevant to the book and its author. Special thanks to Majid Maqbool for sourcing this excerpt.

Day and Night — A Short Story by Malini Bhattacharya

Day and Night — A Short Story by Malini Bhattacharya

In Malini Bhattacharya’s short story, a young woman protagonist goes through her day busying herself in a frantic focus behind which a creeping subtlety gives way to a night full of dark thoughts and traumatic memories. The story is relatable to the extent that it verbalizes the experiences of victims and survivors, and purposefully disturbing because such experiences are so common and rampant—and not discussed. Given the sensitive nature of this story, reader discretion and parental guidance is required.

A Shepherd Boy — A Short Story by Ghulam Mohammad Khan

A Shepherd Boy — A Short Story by Ghulam Mohammad Khan

Ghulam Mohammad Khan presents a short story in which a shepherd goes through his daily routine of taking his sheep to “a dozen deep and wide verdant folds of a mountain” for the habitual grazing. However, a series of untimely events disrupts the protagonist’s peace in a secluded pastoral world and plunges him into the depth of uncertainty, paranoia, and fear. The setting of the story is elusive and unspecified, adding greater emphasis to the tense and escalating action narrated in the first person. Due to explicit use of language in certain parts,
reader discretion is advised.

End of the Day — A Short Story by Shabir Ahmad Mir

End of the Day — A Short Story by Shabir Ahmad Mir

Shabir Ahmad Mir presents a short story that unfolds in an undisclosed setting, with characters that lack proper names. The absence of specificity in this piece of short fiction allows for an emphasis on multiple metaphors, with a set focus on its action and its descriptions. Within its plot and narration, a “soldier-king” embarks on a gruesome and tortuous journey with “the Body” in what can perhaps be considered one of the darkest pieces of short fiction to find its way into the corpus of contemporary Kashmiri literature in the English language. As such, extreme reader discretion is advised given the portrayals of graphic violence with which this text confronts its reader. In reference to his novel “Yalo” (Picador, 2009), the Lebanese author Elias Khoury once said, “Writing is a mechanism of resistance, a mechanism against torture.” Perhaps such words may find considerable validity in Mir’s short story as the weight of an act—or series of acts—lingers perpetually, while the disposable becomes irremovable and unerasable, like a permanent burn mark on the one who carries out the act or series of acts. Whether the plot to Mir’s story is circular in structure and whether the story contains a circular ending is debatable and equally probable.

Non-Fiction

Rodolfo Walsh’s 1977 Open Letter to the Military Junta in Argentina — Introduced and Translated by Arturo Desimone

Rodolfo Walsh’s 1977 Open Letter to the Military Junta in Argentina — Introduced and Translated by Arturo Desimone

Written on March 24, 1977 in Buenos Aires, this letter “can be useful to readers to reflect on the new despotisms.” This letter and the attached piece were originally published by Arturo Desimone on December 6, 2016, under the title of “Reading the Argentinian resistance writer Rodolfo Walsh in the Times of Trump” and is republished here from Open Democracy via CC BY-NC 4.0

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.

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.

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.

POETRY

ENGLISH MEDIUM — A Poem by Rumuz E Bekhudi

ENGLISH MEDIUM — A Poem by Rumuz E Bekhudi

Rumuz E Bekhudi presents a poem that speaks to a worldwide audience of English learners or non-native speakers of English who carry with them a desire, a need and a compulsion. Rumuz’s poem betrays the brevity of its verses by thematically expanding on the significance of “English Medium” education throughout the world, inviting critique and reflection on questions of class mobility, rank, status, inclusion, exclusion, colonialism, imperial history, globalization—all tucked under the exhausted white collar of middle-class aspirations.

Gaash — A Call to Remembrance

Gaash — A Call to Remembrance

On August 18th of 1990, 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, her quest to find her son and her demand for justice persist. At this 32nd year since Javaid’s enforced disappearance, this poem makes a call to remembrance for those who stand in solidarity with his mother Parveena and with the many Kashmiri families she represents as Founder of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, Kashmir.

MUSIC FEATURE: A Song by Kristina Jacobsen Inspired by Ather Zia’s Poem “i. will. cross.” + Exclusive Interview with the Two Professors

MUSIC FEATURE: A Song by Kristina Jacobsen Inspired by Ather Zia’s Poem “i. will. cross.” + Exclusive Interview with the Two Professors

In a rare and unprecedented instance, two professors from two different cultures meet at the crossroads of verse and song to produce a creative collaboration around the themes of Indigeneity, marginality, war, colonization, and erasure. The result is an adaptation of Professor Ather Zia’s poem “i. will. cross.” into a song composed and performed by Professor Kristina Jacobsen. Along with Kristina Jacobsen’s song recording (mixed and mastered by Drake Hardin), we reproduce Ather Zia’s poem as well as a recorded recitation by the poet (republished from Sapiens via CC BY-ND 4.0), followed by an exclusive Q&A with the two professors and a list of relevant links for those interested in their extensive work.

We cross the Red Sea every day — Two Poems by Miran Gulzar

We cross the Red Sea every day — Two Poems by Miran Gulzar

Miran Gulzar presents two poems that counterpose erasure, grief and loss with faith, memory and remembrance. In the first poem, snow offers a momentary lapse that shrouds grief and reconciles it with loss, while finally placing a funerary drape over the world of “the unburied.” “Religious allusions” in the second poem sustain its verses and hold them steadfast before the impositions of power that selectively force shut the gates of certain places meant for prayer and devotion.

FILM

Factory or Corporation: What “Severance” Gets Wrong — An Analysis by Muzaffar Karim

Factory or Corporation: What “Severance” Gets Wrong — An Analysis by Muzaffar Karim

Muzaffar Karim presents an analysis of “Severance” (2022, Apple+), the critically-acclaimed award-winning TV series directed by Ben Stiller and Aoife McArdle, with Adam Scott in the lead. Karim’s analytical piece fills the void that is often left by mainstream reviews that are mainly concerned with plot, characterization, theme, ratings and “watchability” and restricted by wordcount. In this piece, Karim meditates on the vocabulary, ideas, thematic undertones, imagery and subtexts found in the show that ultimately facilitate a theoretical and critical commentary on bigger and more pressing questions in dialogue with the work of multiple philosophers and thinkers.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions presented in this piece are the author’s own. This piece contains some spoilers.

Sufism in Cinema: The Case of Bab’Aziz: The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul — by Ridade Öztürk

Sufism in Cinema: The Case of Bab’Aziz: The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul — by Ridade Öztürk

This article presents a discussion of key aspects of knowledge in Sufism through an analysis of the film Bab’Aziz: The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul (Nacer Khemir, 2005). The dominant Western perspective argues for the necessity of a rational, objective form of knowledge which is based on logical argument and precepts. This perspective, however, fails to recognize the alternative form of experiential knowledge which lies at the heart of the Sufi tradition. In this respect, Bab’Aziz is an important film because its content and its narrative technique is an expression of certain knowledge, knowledge without doubt, and kashf, unveiling or discovery. This article compares knowledge in Sufism (Tasawwuf) to the concept of knowledge in the Western tradition, and argues for a reconsideration of the meaning of philosophy as understood by the Ancient Greeks. Originally published in Volume 23, Issue 1 of Film-Philosophy journal and republished here via CC-SA-4.0.

Gaekhir Republik: A Band Singing the Blues in Kashmir — A Short Documentary by NewsClick

Gaekhir Republik: A Band Singing the Blues in Kashmir — A Short Documentary by NewsClick

Summary by NewsClick (via CC): With some intense songs about sorrow and prayer, the band Gaekhir Republik (GR) is one of the few bands that sing about the complexities of life and death in Jammu and Kashmir. Between hopelessness and violence, musicians find it hard to celebrate their art. But many like the GR are making a mark through their lyrical compositions which articulate the themes of struggle, mystery and twilight in the valley. All media embedded directly from source via Creative Commons.

Music

From Ghulam Nabi Doolwal to Janbaaz Kishtwari: The Journey of an Artist into the Heart of His People — An Essay by Garima Sudhan

From Ghulam Nabi Doolwal to Janbaaz Kishtwari: The Journey of an Artist into the Heart of His People — An Essay by Garima Sudhan

Garima Sudhan visits legendary Kashmiri singer and musician Ghulam Nabi Doolwal’s native Kishtwar to unearth his journey and transformation into Janbaaz Kishtwari. The result is an informative essay and travelogue that intimates readers with Doolwal’s legacy as a singer, musician, poet and writer—in a piece that reflects on his enduring impact on his Kishtwar, a place that remembers him all too fondly. While focused on unravelling the personal history that created the public figure of Doolwal as Janbaaz Kishtwari, Sudhan’s essay sheds light on a collective history—set in motion by his musical stature—that the writer gathers here by taking us on an excursion through his place of residence. The memorial-as-essay is interlaced with quotes from several interviews conducted by Garima, and aimed at explaining Ghulam Nabi Doolwal’s importance and significance in the lives of those who knew him and heard him sing. While shedding light on his musical work with the Chalant, the Ghazal, and the Naat, Garima Sudhan pays equal attention to his work as a writer and a poet, and as a teacher and champion of Kashmiri music.

MUSIC FEATURE: A Song by Kristina Jacobsen Inspired by Ather Zia’s Poem “i. will. cross.” + Exclusive Interview with the Two Professors

MUSIC FEATURE: A Song by Kristina Jacobsen Inspired by Ather Zia’s Poem “i. will. cross.” + Exclusive Interview with the Two Professors

In a rare and unprecedented instance, two professors from two different cultures meet at the crossroads of verse and song to produce a creative collaboration around the themes of Indigeneity, marginality, war, colonization, and erasure. The result is an adaptation of Professor Ather Zia’s poem “i. will. cross.” into a song composed and performed by Professor Kristina Jacobsen. Along with Kristina Jacobsen’s song recording (mixed and mastered by Drake Hardin), we reproduce Ather Zia’s poem as well as a recorded recitation by the poet (republished from Sapiens via CC BY-ND 4.0), followed by an exclusive Q&A with the two professors and a list of relevant links for those interested in their extensive work.

Books and Songs That Carried Us Through 2021 — by Inverse Contributors

Books and Songs That Carried Us Through 2021 — by Inverse Contributors

As we come to the end of this difficult year and enter the new one, Inverse Journal has asked its contributors to participate in a collective piece where they share—with our readers and their fellow contributors—the one book and/or the one song that stayed with them throughout the year or during a considerable part of it. Below are entries from some of our contributors who responded to the online survey and shared their picks for this 2021 as it passes by. In a human world where catastrophe and devastation also wreak their havoc on meaning-making and signification, one imagines that books and songs are imbued with a restorative and restructuring power—with both operating within and outside of human time. It with this thought in mind that Inverse Journal presents a limited selection of such books and songs curated and picked by some of the same contributors who make this space possible.

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.

Art

Exhibition Review: “I am looking for you like a drone, my love” by Aziz Hazara + Unknown Carpet Makers

Exhibition Review: “I am looking for you like a drone, my love” by Aziz Hazara + Unknown Carpet Makers

Amjad Majid presents a review of “I am looking for you like a drone, my love”, an exhibition showcasing work by Aziz Hazara and unknown carpet makers. Curated by Dr. David Sequeira, the exhibition is on display at the Fiona & Sidney Myer Gallery, Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne from April 14 to May 21, 2022. Inverse Journal has included an independently curated visual bibliography to familiarize readers and viewers with the Afghan artist’s extensive art practice.

Dialogue in Comics: Medium-­Specific Features and Basic Narrative Functions — by Kai Mikkonen

Dialogue in Comics: Medium-­Specific Features and Basic Narrative Functions — by Kai Mikkonen

From The Narratology of Comic Art (Routledge, 2017) by Kai Mikkonen. Abstract by author: Conversation is a basic element in the medium of comics, where much of the narrative appeal is derived from the interplay between dialogue and action. The speech balloon, a favoured visual symbol for voice and utterance in the medium since the mid-twentieth century, has become a symbol for comics. In Italian, famously, the word fumetto—the word for a speech or thought balloon—also refers to the art form itself, whether in the form of a comic strip or a comic book. In fact, dialogue is such a central feature in the medium that it may sometimes be difficult to think of it as a distinct element. A character who speaks his thoughts aloud when apparently nobody is listening is a much-used convention, and many comics, for instance, ‘talking heads’ or humoristic comic strips that deliver a verbal gag, focus on speaking. Perhaps paradoxically, dialogue scenes may be more distinguishable when their use is more restricted, for instance, in comics when action is predominant and only occasionally interrupted by a scene of talk or when first-person verbal narration is predominant, as in autobiographical comics that occasionally lapse into dialogue. Republished via CC BY-NC-ND.

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.

Photography

The Season of Transience and Fugitive Emotions: A Tribute to the Kashmiri Autumn — by Mir Yasir Mukhtar

The Season of Transience and Fugitive Emotions: A Tribute to the Kashmiri Autumn — by Mir Yasir Mukhtar

Mir Yasir Mukhtar presents a tribute to autumn, the season that symbolizes transience and presages the renewal of life. Perhaps inadvertently, the young photographer captures the relationship and connection that the indigenous people of Kashmir have with their sites of heritage, which include famous Mughal gardens such as Nishat Bagh. Widely advertised and promoted to tourists and visitors from outside of Kashmir, this photo story quite contrarily and perhaps unintentionally depicts the ritualized bond that Kashmiris have developed with their sites of heritage, captured in this case through visuals showing the Kashmiri experience of the Nishat Gardens. Following the tradition of celebrating and rendering tribute to the fall season, Mir Yasir Mukhtar produces a concise but vastly creative text supported further by his photography to reflect on autumn in his native Kashmir.

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.

Books

Book Review of Alejandro Zambra’s “Chilean Poet” (Granta Books, 2022) — by Dr. Chaandreyi Mukherjee

Book Review of Alejandro Zambra’s “Chilean Poet” (Granta Books, 2022) — by Dr. Chaandreyi Mukherjee

We kick off this new cycle of publishing with Dr. Chaandreyi Mukherjee’s book review of Alejandro Zambra’s “Chilean Poet” (Granta Books, 2022, translated by Megan McDowell). In this review, Mukherjee travels through Zambra’s text while contextualizing its importance within Chile’s history—with the necessary cultural and literary considerations that lend to the great value Zambra holds within Spanish American writing. The review succeeds in locating Zambra’s work within a larger heritage of Chilean poets and writers while also—and perhaps inadvertently—explaining the great allure of Zambra’s work for readers worldwide, including Dr. Mukherjee, whose enthusiasm is endearing to the need of such works being read far beyond their usual cultural and linguistic spaces—all the way from South Asian academic and literary circles.

Hospital — An Excerpt from Freny Manecksha’s “Flaming Forest, Wounded Valley” (Speaking Tiger, 2022)

Hospital — An Excerpt from Freny Manecksha’s “Flaming Forest, Wounded Valley” (Speaking Tiger, 2022)

Freny Manecksha presents an excerpt from the sixth chapter of her latest book, Flaming Forest, Wounded Valley, published earlier this year by Speaking Tiger Books. As a major portion of the chapter aptly titled “Hospital”, this excerpt Manecksha provides a thorough insight into what transpired in Kashmir’s hospitals from the 90s all the way up to 2016. Traversing a harrowing timeline full of violence, killing, injury and loss, Freny is able to recount multiple stories from the perspective of the medical professionals, victims of war, volunteers, patients and the family members who she cites and whose version of the accounts she retrieves from a wide array of published (and verified) sources and archives.

Note: This excerpt is published with the exclusive permission of the book’s author, Freny Manecksha, and its publisher, Speaking Tiger Books.

Tending a Bonsai or How to Read a Translated Text without Knowing the Original — by Mubashir Karim

Tending a Bonsai or How to Read a Translated Text without Knowing the Original — by Mubashir Karim

In this commentary on two translations of Alejandro Zambra’s novel “Bonsai”, Mubashir Karim performs an exercise in “literary appreciation” that functions equally well as a concise comparative study of the two translations—one by Megan McDowell and the other by Carolina de Robertis. As the commentary progresses, the linguistic expression of the original novel (in Spanish) permeates into the style of writing employed by professor Karim in his deep engagement with the two translations into English by McDowell and de Robertis.

Writing all the way from Kashmir about the two translations of a celebrated novel by a Chilean writer and poet, Mubashir Karim’s commentary directly or indirectly prompts a comparison with Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali’s poem “I See Chile in My Rearview Mirror” as a second instance where Kashmir salutes Chile and Latin America by extension—perhaps because there is a similitude to be found in the experience of multiple histories by multiple subjects whose contemporaneity converges in the study and appreciation of the literary craft, linguistic barriers notwithstanding (“no obstante”).

Given the references to explicit uses of language in the novella, reader discretion is advised.

When the Light Dawned by Somnath Zutshi — A Book Excerpt from The Greatest Kashmiri Short Stories Ever Told (trans. Neerja Mattoo, Aleph, 2022)

When the Light Dawned by Somnath Zutshi — A Book Excerpt from The Greatest Kashmiri Short Stories Ever Told (trans. Neerja Mattoo, Aleph, 2022)

We are proud to present Somnath Zutshi’s short story “When the Light Dawned” excerpted from The Greatest Kashmiri Short Stories Ever Told (Aleph, 2022) selected and translated by Neerja Mattoo. Inverse Journal has independently curated a visual bibliography of links relevant to the book and its author. Special thanks to Majid Maqbool for sourcing this excerpt.

Understanding Kant’s Duty-Based Ethics — by Faizan Akbar

Understanding Kant’s Duty-Based Ethics — by Faizan Akbar

Faizan Akbar presents a paper that also operates as an extensive book review of Immanuel Kant’s “Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals” (1785). After providing an apt introduction of the German philosopher, along with a summary of his other works, Akbar proceeds to effectively synthesize the main ideas and focal points found in Kant’s 60-page work. Secondly, Faizan also completes the task of reviewing such a seminal work of philosophical importance and contextualizes its greater relevance within the broader Western philosophical tradition.

Academia

Fluid Transgressions and Skeptical Dislocations of the Human/Animal Binary in Montaigne’s “Man is no better than the animals” — by Sakhi Thirani

Fluid Transgressions and Skeptical Dislocations of the Human/Animal Binary in Montaigne’s “Man is no better than the animals” — by Sakhi Thirani

Of late, within emerging environmentalist and ecological discourses, it has become a fundamental and necessary practice to question any anthropocentric views of the world that we inhabit. Such questions arise to facilitate the idea of a “multispecies world” that can be constituted by a “multispecies polity”, especially when one is reminded of Donna Haraway’s affirmation that it “matters which worlds world worlds and which stories tell stories” (Cosmopolitan Animals, vii). From this more contemporary standpoint, Sakhi Thirani’s essay acquires even greater relevance as she discusses and evaluates Michel de Montaigne’s “Man is no better than animals”— an excerpt from his “Apology for Raymond Sebond” (1580-92)—to elucidate how “Montaigne posits a fluid view of parity between humans and animals by disrupting, destabilising, and dislocating the supremacy of hegemonic human institutions of intelligence, reason as well as language via his skeptical engagement with antecedent texts.”

The fact that Montaigne presented such ideas in the 16th century is as interesting and relevant as Sakhi’s observations in her critical engagement with the French Renaissance philosopher’s writing as she relies on various theoretical and philosophical ideas and sources to give shape to ideas that transcend Montaigne’s own—and not only exist in the realm of contemporary discourses but are pertinent to discourses on “multispecies sustainability” found in First Nation and Indigenous practices. While relatively brief, Thirani’s essay maintains a complexity that can facilitate multiple conversations and invite greater inquiry into multiple subjects/topics, from “cosmopolitical ecologies”, Critical Animal Studies, and the posthumanities to the “emergence of multispecies ethnography”—with her study remaining consistently focused on Montaigne’s ““Man is no better than the animals”.

Tending a Bonsai or How to Read a Translated Text without Knowing the Original — by Mubashir Karim

Tending a Bonsai or How to Read a Translated Text without Knowing the Original — by Mubashir Karim

In this commentary on two translations of Alejandro Zambra’s novel “Bonsai”, Mubashir Karim performs an exercise in “literary appreciation” that functions equally well as a concise comparative study of the two translations—one by Megan McDowell and the other by Carolina de Robertis. As the commentary progresses, the linguistic expression of the original novel (in Spanish) permeates into the style of writing employed by professor Karim in his deep engagement with the two translations into English by McDowell and de Robertis.

Writing all the way from Kashmir about the two translations of a celebrated novel by a Chilean writer and poet, Mubashir Karim’s commentary directly or indirectly prompts a comparison with Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali’s poem “I See Chile in My Rearview Mirror” as a second instance where Kashmir salutes Chile and Latin America by extension—perhaps because there is a similitude to be found in the experience of multiple histories by multiple subjects whose contemporaneity converges in the study and appreciation of the literary craft, linguistic barriers notwithstanding (“no obstante”).

Given the references to explicit uses of language in the novella, reader discretion is advised.

Merleau-Ponty’s Theory of Embodiment and its ‘Return to the Body’ — A Commentary by Mirum Quazi

Merleau-Ponty’s Theory of Embodiment and its ‘Return to the Body’ — A Commentary by Mirum Quazi

Mirum Quazi applies Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s “Theory of Embodiment” and its articulation of “Return to the Body” to the act of artmaking. In the process, the writer demonstrates how Merleau-Ponty’s ideas about the “embodied self” can be understood and appreciated by taking artmaking as a prime example to explain such core ideas from Merleau-Ponty’s great philosophical contributions to phenomenology.

MUSIC FEATURE: A Song by Kristina Jacobsen Inspired by Ather Zia’s Poem “i. will. cross.” + Exclusive Interview with the Two Professors

MUSIC FEATURE: A Song by Kristina Jacobsen Inspired by Ather Zia’s Poem “i. will. cross.” + Exclusive Interview with the Two Professors

In a rare and unprecedented instance, two professors from two different cultures meet at the crossroads of verse and song to produce a creative collaboration around the themes of Indigeneity, marginality, war, colonization, and erasure. The result is an adaptation of Professor Ather Zia’s poem “i. will. cross.” into a song composed and performed by Professor Kristina Jacobsen. Along with Kristina Jacobsen’s song recording (mixed and mastered by Drake Hardin), we reproduce Ather Zia’s poem as well as a recorded recitation by the poet (republished from Sapiens via CC BY-ND 4.0), followed by an exclusive Q&A with the two professors and a list of relevant links for those interested in their extensive work.

Acquaintance

On the Women’s Uprising in Iran: An Interview with Inshah Malik — by Lia Dekanadze

On the Women’s Uprising in Iran: An Interview with Inshah Malik — by Lia Dekanadze

Lia Dekanadze (of the Social Justice Center in Georgia) interviews Kashmiri political theorist and gender researcher Inshah Malik about the ongoing women’s uprising in Iran that sprang into action with 22-year-old Mahsa Amin’s tragic death under police custody. Originally published on the official website of Social Justice Center, this English translation presents an extended version of the original interview in Georgian that can be accessed here. Prompted by Lia Dekanadze’s incisive questions, Inshah Malik offers multiple critical perspectives on key topics of relevance to what is currently unfolding in Iran.

On the Appropriation and Depoliticisation  of the Pheran  — by A. Makbool and Neelofar Gooroo

On the Appropriation and Depoliticisation of the Pheran — by A. Makbool and Neelofar Gooroo

This piece by A. Makbool and Neelofar Gooroo raises important and relevant questions about what it means to wear the Kashmiri Pheran, lending particular attention to the ways in which attempts have been made at diluting the Pheran’s political symbolism over the years. Published in our Acquaintance section dedicated to opinions and perspectives, Makbool and Gooroo’s extensive think piece provides ample critique and perspective on cultural appropriation, depoliticisation, and a historical background on how the Kashmiri Pheran became more prominent among Indian wearers, many of whom remain wilfully ignorant about its political and cultural significance for Kashmiris.

Opinion: Reflecting on the Karnataka Hijab Row in India@75 — by Adwaith PB

Opinion: Reflecting on the Karnataka Hijab Row in India@75 — by Adwaith PB

Adwaith PB problematizes the “Hijab Row” in Karnataka while drawing upon multiple recognized examples from texts that historically determined the extent of freedom, liberty, and citizen rights in democratic nations across the world. The young student and editor begins his evaluation by referring directly to the constitution of his country in an attempt to assess and make sense of the laws at the center of protest, controversy and media debate. The piece is published in our Acquaintance section dedicated to opinions and perspectives.

TORTURERS R US — An Essay by Christopher Hirschmann Brandt

TORTURERS R US — An Essay by Christopher Hirschmann Brandt

Christopher Hirschmann Brandt presents an extensive reflection-as-indictment on the practice of torture by nation states, and in particular the United States of America, which he calls home. Unlike many political leaders who use the first-person plural “we” to refer to their countries and their peoples in a patriotic tone, Hirschmann Brandt employs the collective “we” inversely to interrogate the repeated uses of torture to bring to light the urgent need for accountability. In doing so, the author provides a broader cultural and historical context required to understand the uses of torture by the United States along a far longer timeline with cited examples covering entire eras and centuries.

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