Fiction

Karamat Ali Khan and the Car – A Short Story by O. Kashmiri

Karamat Ali Khan and the Car – A Short Story by O. Kashmiri

In this second story from the “Karamat Ali Khan” series, the anonymous O. Kashmiri returns with a dark tale involving Karamat and his four sons who reside on the Mountainside in a fictitious valley where trees are cut, earth is flattened, and roads are paved so soldiers can march with greater ease.

More Than Happy – A Short Story by Arif Ayaz Parrey

More Than Happy – A Short Story by Arif Ayaz Parrey

Arif Ayaz Parrey presents a short story revolving around an unconventional father-daughter relationship that, in its greater reaches, encompasses the blunt reality of Kashmir. This piece of fiction comes with a resourceful glossary for those unfamiliar with certain terms and vocabulary in other languages. Parental Advisory: due to the mature content within this short story, reader discretion is advised.

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Non-Fiction

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 By way of translation, Muzaffar Karim retrieves a piece of writing that serves as a relic or a historical document to register the desperation, angst and nihilism that has festered for decades as Kashmir has remained besieged and exiled from any semblance of peace.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.

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Poetry

Martyr's Paradise — A Poem by Kamran Bashir

Martyr's Paradise — A Poem by Kamran Bashir

Young Kamran Bashir from Tral returns with a poem that is composed by nine others, threaded together by the retrieval of memories otherwise made elusive by the present and forcefully swept under the rug to accumulate dust—only to explode into a cloud of remembrance when the young poet picks up the pen and scattered thoughts and dispersed moments are (re)collected through the craft of his verse.

Everything I Wish You Had Told Me — A Poem by Jagdeep Raina

Everything I Wish You Had Told Me — A Poem by Jagdeep Raina

From the present time and within the terrain of scattered memory, artist Jagdeep Raina presents a poem that digs into a history of Kashmir beyond epochs, eras, regimes, rules, governorates, kingdoms and states. It is past all these that Raina retrieves a poetic voice, one that eludes fragmented human-made time and the constructs of its history, to give way to a Kashmiri being still on an unending quest. Fragmented time, fragmented geographies, fragmented histories, and the burdens they unleash on the present are in direct contrast with the continuity that these verses lend to the poetic voice of such a Kashmiri being as it traverses centuries and generations.

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Film

Film Commentary: On Axone — by Enatoli Sema

Film Commentary: On Axone — by Enatoli Sema

“The intent for writing this piece arose from a desire to note a historic event for the people from the Northeast,” writes Enatoli Sema in her commentary on “Axone,” a film she considers a “critical piece of art.” In response to the film and what it inspired in the writer, Sema first reflects on her heritage, culture and its intrinsic value and secondly, on the “unacceptability of discrimination.”

RIP: A Remix Manifesto (2008) — Directed by Brett Gaylor

RIP: A Remix Manifesto (2008) — Directed by Brett Gaylor

Immerse yourself in the energetic, innovative and potentially illegal world of mash-up media with RiP: A Remix Manifesto. Let web activist Brett Gaylor and musician Greg Gillis, better known as Girl Talk, serve as your digital tour guides on a probing investigation into how culture builds upon culture in the information age.

Out of Sight (2019) — A film by Azad Essa and Horia El Hadad

Out of Sight (2019) — A film by Azad Essa and Horia El Hadad

In what Kashmiri writer Mirza Waheed has interrogated as “the world’s first mass blinding,” here is the story of 18-year-old Farzan Sheikh, who was blinded by pellets fired by Indian government forces a year after the horrific four month curfew of 2016. During that year, “17,000 adults and children” had “been injured” and “nearly five thousand” had “been arrested”, while “an entire population spent the summer under the longest curfew in the history of curfews in Kashmir.” However, with so many Kashmiris blinded through the use of pellet fire, the state’s policy did not change. In 2017, Farzan became yet another target of such violence while attending a funeral procession. Azad Essa and Horia El Hadad present his story in this short documentary. Relevant links included.

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Music

Documentary Premiere — CRES: ONE LIFE

Documentary Premiere — CRES: ONE LIFE

In anticipation of the soon-to-be-released longform “Hip Hop Retrospective” piece commemorating the body of work that Cres has produced over the last two decades, Inverse Journal presents the premiere of Cres’ documentary entitled “CRES: ONE LIFE”—a film that gives an insight into this Hip Hop artist’s journey from his native Alicante (Spain) to the US, Latin America and the rest of the world. With Cres as a vessel and intermediary, the documentary uncovers a greater story of interconnectivity within various communities and diverse groups (within this genre), pointing to a larger world that the Hip Hop artist occupies and brings together throughout his musical trajectory, while at the same time sharing space with some of the most recognizable and underground artists, producers and industry creatives.

Kashmiri Rock Feature: Aalav — by Ramooz

Kashmiri Rock Feature: Aalav — by Ramooz

Kashmir-based rock band Ramooz releases the music video for the first track from their upcoming album conceived and recorded during eight months of lockdown in Srinagar. The song “Aalav”, performed in Kashmiri, is infused with emotive lyricism matched by the evocative imagery of its music video. While some might engage with this music video from the frame of a “memoryscape”, its lyrical range and complex scenography ventures equally into the terrain of a “dreamscape”, where disjointed subtexts and multiple motifs point to a story outside of the frame and hidden deep within its contours. As such, “Aalav” (the call) is as evocative as memory and as elusive as dream, and not easily served to literalists. Video credits, relevant links and lyrics included.

(Re)centering Indigenous Perspectives in Music Education in Latin America — by Héctor Miguel Vázquez Córdoba

(Re)centering Indigenous Perspectives in Music Education in Latin America — by Héctor Miguel Vázquez Córdoba

Indigenous knowledge has been marginalized and excluded through a system based on a worldview that perpetuates colonialism. The actions and attitudes of nation-states and academic bodies deem, recognize, and value certain ways of knowing as “superior,” which marginalizes knowledge from Indigenous cultures. Considering an educational philosophy that puts the knowledge and worldviews of local cultures at its heart is an urgent step towards changing this situation. In this text, I discuss the implementation of Styres’s (2017) Land-centred philosophical proposal in music education. This approach is built on the understanding that Indigenous knowledge has the same value as knowledge that comes from hegemonic Western centres. This perspective proposes to disrupt the role of Eurocentrism that accepts or rejects different ways of knowing and (re)centers Indigenous knowledge and worldviews.

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Art

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.

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.

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Photography

Before the Lockdown — by Swasti Acharya

Before the Lockdown — by Swasti Acharya

Swasti Acharya presents a series of photographs that she produced seven years ago, in June of 2013. The series “Before the Lockdown” retrieves, as photographs often do, what is set to be lost or displaced in one way or another (as memory or as something else). In such images, the eternity of a time past reverberates in visuals of everyday life, beyond the limits of enforced change and beyond a controlled liminality that has continuously besieged Kashmir, as if it were some sort of a “liminal space” made such for its own inhabitants (if one is to be reminded of the martial reality that exists beyond such innocent and unassuming visual framing). In more ways than one, Acharya’s visuals of Kashmir elucidate how photography is an art where “capturing” and “retrieving” can be harmonious and not disruptive as far as image-making is concerned, and that too through the unfamiliar lens of an unaccustomed outsider who goes back in time to recover visuals of something that tomorrow might not remain the same or might altogether have been forcefully transformed into something else. This series is published with a note by the young photographer along with relevant captions that go beyond any editorial framing and interpretations presented in this editorial introduction.

Srinagar in Colors and Shades — by Mir Yasir Mukhtar

Srinagar in Colors and Shades — by Mir Yasir Mukhtar

In this series of photographs, Mir Yasir Mukhtar diverts his lens to portray everyday life in Kashmir beyond the horrors that are captured by professionals from his field of photojournalism. In habitual scenarios, it is almost impossible to avoid images of war, conflict, tragedy and violence. However, as the images themselves communicate, an alternate Kashmir, and with it an alternate Srinagar, exists to show how Kashmiris try to live on a daily basis while being at the focal point of the oldest unresolved geopolitical conflict of global modernity.

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Books

Prajnya Gender Talks: Muslim Women, Agency and Resistance in Kashmir — by Dr. Inshah Malik

Prajnya Gender Talks: Muslim Women, Agency and Resistance in Kashmir — by Dr. Inshah Malik

Dr. Inshah Malik speaks in relative detail about her monograph, “Muslim Women, Agency and Resistance Politics: The Case of Kashmir” (Palgrave Pivot, 2019). The book presents a considerable volume of research and knowledge about the agency of Muslim Kashmiri women and their varied roles in forming and shaping resistance, a subject that has been undermined, if not ignored, in the global arena of academic writing. As such, this seminal text serves to break multiple stereotypes and myths, while uncovering the history of a multifarious resistance by Kashmiri women, whether against state control, patriarchy (both militarized and societal) or political repression. As a visiting professor, Dr. Malik also gave a related lecture on the subject for the South Asia Center at the University of Washington earlier last year. Relevant links included.

The Books That Shaped Our Year (2020) – Curated by Majid Maqbool

The Books That Shaped Our Year (2020) – Curated by Majid Maqbool

With the end of the year here, Majid Maqbool presents a curated list of books read by Kashmir’s writers, poets, academics, journalists, and some of our Kashmiri and international contributors who have supported us from the beginning. Their comments and reflections on their particular selection along with the book covers and relevant links are included (with inputs from Amjad Majid). Each book is hyperlinked back to the original publisher or a relevant resource. As we look towards the future, Inverse Journal ends this year’s tumultuous publishing cycle with this piece published in the last hour of 2020.

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Academia

Prajnya Gender Talks: Muslim Women, Agency and Resistance in Kashmir — by Dr. Inshah Malik

Prajnya Gender Talks: Muslim Women, Agency and Resistance in Kashmir — by Dr. Inshah Malik

Dr. Inshah Malik speaks in relative detail about her monograph, “Muslim Women, Agency and Resistance Politics: The Case of Kashmir” (Palgrave Pivot, 2019). The book presents a considerable volume of research and knowledge about the agency of Muslim Kashmiri women and their varied roles in forming and shaping resistance, a subject that has been undermined, if not ignored, in the global arena of academic writing. As such, this seminal text serves to break multiple stereotypes and myths, while uncovering the history of a multifarious resistance by Kashmiri women, whether against state control, patriarchy (both militarized and societal) or political repression. As a visiting professor, Dr. Malik also gave a related lecture on the subject for the South Asia Center at the University of Washington earlier last year. Relevant links included.

The Animal Touch — by Mubashir Karim

The Animal Touch — by Mubashir Karim

While evaluating the writings of various philosophers and theorists like Jacques Derrida and Donna Haraway, Mubashir Karim presents an extensive paper that considers the central role that animals play in celebrated works of literature and film. From Chekhov’s “Misery,” Gholam-Hossein Sa’edi’s “The Cow,” Maile Meloy’s “Travis B.” among others, to film adaptations by Dariush Mehrjui and Kelly Reichardt, the Kashmiri academic traces the connections between stories and films where animals find a prominent place. The resulting study weaves multiple theoretical, critical and philosophical formulations by leading thinkers on the subject of animals. Karim brings in his own observations and interpretations to present a world of fiction and film where animals humanize humans further or retrieve their humanity by entering their plane of existence to create greater depth within it.

Possible selves of a hashtag: Moving from the theory of speech acts to cultural objects to interpret hashtags — by Gevisa La Rocca

Possible selves of a hashtag: Moving from the theory of speech acts to cultural objects to interpret hashtags — by Gevisa La Rocca

Abstract: In recent years hashtag studies have increased their numbers. The role of hashtags becomes increasingly predominant in social media studies. Many researchers wonder how to study them, ending up treating them in an aggregate way and turning to big data and static-mathematical modeling. This type of studies seem to consider hashtags as tools, favoring a single analysis perspective. In fact, the studies and the research carried out in the field of social media deal with what users do with hashtags. This paper wishes to propose a different perspective. The question raised here is not “what users do with hashtags,” but “what they do to hashtags.” This theoretical approach presupposes a change in the perspective based on the reading of hashtags as speech acts, which impacts the construction of social reality and identifies hashtags as cultural products. This interpretative path of cultural nature seems to be necessary in order to be able to look at the hashtag as a concept that changes its meaning through human interaction. The consequence of inserting this perspective is that the hashtag becomes a multidimensional concept, which in order to be analyzed must be decomposed and analyzed in all its possible dimensions. If the aim of the research is to reconstruct the sense and meaning of the hashtag.

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Acquaintance

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.

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Kashmir 2019 Siege

On August 5, 2019 the Indian state abrogated Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution to make Kashmir a permanent territory within the Indian Union without prior consent or consultation with the people of Kashmir. For months, the Kashmiri press, television, media, mobile, telephony, internet and other essential services and institutions were shutdown under government order while dissidents, activists, and even government-sponsored politicians were put under arrest.

It became meaningless and practically impossible to keep this journal — dedicated to contemporary culture from Kashmir and around the world — running while Kashmir was put under unprecedented siege and lockdown. This special section of the journal was born out of necessity, to compile and directly cite various articles and sources from recognized media and academic institutions about what was unfolding in a Kashmir placed under complete blackout, siege and lockdown while millions of people were kept silent.

The curated selection presents Kashmiri voices and offers a perspective on such impositions from members of the Kashmiri press, academia, independent Indian and international media through proper citation and bibliographical reference. It also includes a variety of accounts from those whose basic freedoms were taken away.

All the articles, videos, media, academic articles, and other such content are cited and linked to their original sources, since Inverse was intended to be a space of cultural engagement in the arts and humanities, with a dedicated focus on academic thinking and contemporary cultural production. All of such editorial plans became impossible, blockaded by the collosal shifts enforced upon Kashmir and its peoples.

In memory of these events — and their ongoing impact on Kashmir and its peoples — this section has become a permanent part of this journal. For legal concerns, see the Editorial Disclaimer at the bottom of each page on this platform. 

Amjad Majid
Founding Editor
Inverse Journal

Ensure Press Freedom in Kashmir — Noam Chomsky, Ayesha Jalal, Tariq Ali, Hamid Dabashi and Several Prominent Figures Endorse Letter Addressing the UN and Worldwide Organizations with 450+ Signatures by Academics, Journalists, Writers, Researchers

Ensure Press Freedom in Kashmir — Noam Chomsky, Ayesha Jalal, Tariq Ali, Hamid Dabashi and Several Prominent Figures Endorse Letter Addressing the UN and Worldwide Organizations with 450+ Signatures by Academics, Journalists, Writers, Researchers

Prominent figures from academia and worldwide press along with several researchers and scholars have endorsed a written a letter and its petition to the UN and several international organizations to demand protection and freedom of press for Kashmiri journalists “charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)” that “can carry jail time of two to ten years” and without bail, for doing their job as journalists reporting from and about Kashmir. The letter covers the last few years of state-sanctioned targeting of Kashmir journalists, particularly since August 5, 2019, when India revoked Articles 370 and 35A while maintaining Kashmir under a media, communications, telephonic and press lockdown that a wide majority of Kashmir observers, scholars and experts have called “a siege.” With only 2G internet and mobile telephony restored recently and the press allowed to operate under constant threat of persecution in Kashmir, a new series of cases have been filed against Kashmiri journalists through the “Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Inverse Journal has embedded this letter directly from its source and provided a series of “relevant links” embedded directly from their respective sources covering this series of events.

Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Over 170 Academics from Around the World Demand India Restore High-Speed Internet, Release Kashmiri Political Prisoners

Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Over 170 Academics from Around the World Demand India Restore High-Speed Internet, Release Kashmiri Political Prisoners

While the world readjusts to handle the Coronavirus, Kashmir is stuck under 2G internet (which was first rolled out in 1995) and without adequate equipment and facilities. As a result, the following letter has been sent from the Kashmir Scholars Consultative and Action Network (KSCAN) and Concerned Academics & Professionals from around the world to the World Health Organization, UN Special Rapporteurs, and various international health organizations. You can view the official letter here. We have included relevant links embedded directly from the original news sources at the bottom of this letter. For more, check out our Kashmir 2019 Siege section.

A Kashmiri Heart at Siege — A Personal Account by Omair Bhat

A Kashmiri Heart at Siege — A Personal Account by Omair Bhat

August of 2019 became a month of insomnia, despair and nightmare-ridden sleep for most Kashmiris, and particularly for those who were stranded away from home while Kashmir was put under a media, telecommunications, internet, broadcast news and public transport blockade unshy from being a complete lockdown and siege. Kashmiri poet and writer Omair Bhat presents his personal log of the first two weeks of such restless nights and tiresome days, when desperation competed with grief and anger to suffocate people like him in an endless uncertainty.

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