Exhuming the Ideological Corpse of Soviet Socialism: Marat Raiymkulov — by Maya Kóvskaya

Art critic, curator and theorist Maya Kóvskaya presents the Pol Pot series of drawings by Kyrgyz contemporary artist Marat Raiymkulov, providing a broad perspective into understanding the artist’s work in its post-Soviet Central Asian context. The article discusses the relevance of the Pol Pot set of drawings and “hand-drawn animations” (displayed here in video form) to reflect on the multiple ways in which Marxism and Leninism embedded itself in everyday Central Asian life and continued to exert its influence on the region and on its peoples during the post-Soviet era. Kóvskaya explains how Raiymkulov effectively employs his unique visual language to explore the ways that “people live within an ideological field” brought about by a Marxist-Leninist cultural legacy in contemporary Kyrgyzstan. In contextualizing Raiymkulov’s work, Kóvskaya brings our attention to the great details embedded within the artist’s oeuvre that further uncover the greater complexities of his place of origin along with reflections on questions of ideology, state, nationhood, community, discourse, the “social power of Capital,” among others. The article is accompanied here by captioned images from the artist’s work along with five animations in video format that integrate the Pol Pot series.

Folding Grief: Four Poems by Ann Christine Tabaka

Through the simplicity of poetic language that conveys a complexity of unaddressed emotions, Ann Christine Tabaka brings us four poems centered on the theme of rupture and dissolution of relationships. These verses do not exact on particular feelings and resound with an inward silence attempting to break through towards a catharsis never fully attained. The last poem entitled “Reaching for Dawn” ends on a somewhat optimistic note and marks along with the other three the struggle of overcoming the absence of an ever-evasive other. These verses by the Pushcart Prize for Poetry nominee share a common thread of grief and tell of struggling, overcoming and heading towards new beginnings.

The Prisons of Neelum Valley — by Majid Magray

In this short story, Majid Magray presents the small world of a boy from the Pakistani side of the Line of Control that divides India and Pakistan. The ficitionalized account acquaints the reader with life at the makeshift border between the two nuclear nations, shedding light on the struggles faced by those who live at the margins of far more densely populated areas. The young twelve year old boy, symbolically named Aazad, dreams of crossing the river from the Pakistani administered side to play a match of cricket with the boys of his age living on the Indian administered side. As the narration progresses, the world of those who live in close proximity of heightened cross-border violence comes to fore. In the process, the story reveals the simple aspirations for peace of a people who do not allow conflicting nation states dictate their relationship neither with their place of birth nor with that world that they inhabit.

California Dreaming: Gabriela Mistral’s Lucid Cold War Paranoia — by Elizabeth Horan

Abstract: “Gabriela Mistral’s boundary crossing strategized and anticipated multiple shifting dynamics during the early years of the Cold War. Border-crossings prove relevant to the method of triangulation deployed throughout this study. As a method, triangulation draws from multiple kinds of measures, relating correspondence to interviews, historical maps and photographs, survey data, consular reports and more. From this combination of theory, method, and sources a biographical narrative develops that is at once accurate (to compensate for an ongoing stream of poorly-edited, inaccurately transcribed or attributed materials) and an intimate reflection on Gabriela Mistral’s “paranoia” in post WW II era California. This study of Mistral’s life and work in California from 1946-1948 reveals her experience of borders as personally empowering within the consular service, where help from nearby Mexico countered the hostilities from Santiago. Her condition as a mestiza-identified Chilean citizen with substantial international experience made her cognizant of the tensions along borders, which enhanced her understanding of race in the United States and Mexico. Harnessing the power of borders and her contacts with the media, Mistral effectively countered and undermined patriarchal and colonial power structures that sought to control and silence her.”

POND: Five Poems by John L. Stanizzi

All the way from New England, poet and literature professor John L. Stanizzi brings us five poems from his ongoing book project entitled “POND.” The poet explains, “Every day, for one year, I will walk to our pond [here in Connecticut], jot down a few notes, and take a photo or two. Then I’ll write a 4-line acrostic poem using P, O, N, D as my first letters, with the extra caveat of never using the same first-word twice. I began the book on November 9, 2018 – will finish November 9, 2019.” Stanizzi carries forward the centuries-old tradition of poetry motivated by the human encounter with nature and more precisely with winter (especially since the 16th century). In these poems an original application of poetic language, coupled with a distinctive use of imagery, reveals that such a tradition is alive and necessary to further articulate experiences that many times are difficult to capture with words. Stanizzi’s innovation is the challenge of doing so in an acrostic format while retaining the vastness of the subject at hand. The brevity of each poem limited to the four verses set by their acrostic form conveys that such brevity suffices to contain the magnitude of experience made communicable so exceptionally well in each of these five poems.

The Damage is Ours Alone – A Poem by Zabirah Fazili

The Damage is Ours Alone – A Poem by Zabirah Fazili

There are no suitable words to describe or introduce Zabirah Fazili’s latest poem. Within such verses one finds an utterance that every Kashmiri mother, tending to her family, has brought to her lips—with the ringing of gunfire in the horizon or an eerie silence ushered in by the passing of daylight. That utterance is one tragically guided by an intuition that Kashmiri mothers have—a sixth sense that connects them to those who they love with devotion, as if their spirits lived within those loved ones. In interviews and testimonials by many mothers of Kashmir, when they narrate the happenings of a horror that has left an open wound in their hearts and memory, they often recall the day when trauma took shape due to a horrific event—and they refer to something odd, an ominous sign, or some glitch in their quotidian space on that fateful day of irremediable grief and pain. In her poem, the young poet captures—within that one utterance and the verses that contain it—an intuition that defies logic and resides in the presentiment of the mothers, spouses, siblings, daughters, and women of Kashmir who over decades of horrors have developed the ability to smell death in the air. That ability takes heartbreak and grief to abysmal depths where language fails to convey an understanding. It is here that Zabirah’s poetry succeeds to transmit such a heartbreak and grief through her verses because they are relatable to far too many Kashmiris confined, among other prisons, to the prison of silence.

L O S T – A Series of Photographs by Adil Manzoor

L O S T – A Series of Photographs by Adil Manzoor

With a camera in hand, Adil Manzoor returns home to his Kashmir, and in returning, he also returns to a silence that is familiar yet strange. In these photographs, Adil tries to locate that silence in multiple ways, where photography as an “objective” visual medium traces in black and white the subjective and intersubjective matter of thought, distraction, meditation, loss and entrancement. The young photographer finds these situated in a silence that is peculiarly Kashmiri and that is drawn on Kashmiri landscapes and on the Kashmiri faces he captures in black and white.

The Values of Independent Hip-Hop in the Post-Golden Era: Hip-Hop’s Rebels (2019, Palgrave Macmillan) — by Christopher Vito

The Values of Independent Hip-Hop in the Post-Golden Era: Hip-Hop’s Rebels (2019, Palgrave Macmillan) — by Christopher Vito

Utilizing a mixed-methods approach, this book uncovers the historical trajectory of U.S. independent hip-hop in the post-golden era, seeking to understand its complex relationship to mainstream hip-hop culture and U.S. culture more generally. Christopher Vito analyzes the lyrics of indie hip-hop albums from 2000-2013 to uncover the dominant ideologies of independent artists regarding race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and social change. These analyses inform interviews with members of the indie hip-hop community to explore the meanings that they associate with the culture today, how technological and media changes impact the boundaries between independent and major, and whether and how this shapes their engagement with oppositional consciousness. Ultimately, this book aims to understand the complex and contradictory cultural politics of independent hip-hop in the contemporary age.

Karamat Ali Khan and the Price of Snow — A Short Story by O. Kashmiri

Karamat Ali Khan and the Price of Snow — A Short Story by O. Kashmiri

In this third instalment of the Karamat Ali Khan series, O. Kashmiri brings us the fictional account of how the Mountain Side, along with the entire Valley, was sold without the consent of Karamat’s people, and without a means to contest such a ludicrous sale. With all faith exasperated, a miracle within the natural order of things restores what was taken—from the land of the people to the hope seeded deep within its soil. Read on to find out how the snow becomes the medium of that miracle to remedy such a forced mass dispossession.

The Cow Theft – A Short Story by Nageen Rather

The Cow Theft – A Short Story by Nageen Rather

Nageen Rather returns to Inverse with a new short story where a “paradox of quantum superposition” like Schrödinger’s cat, both dead and alive, involves the case of a cow lost and found. In both states of loss and re-encounter, the theft of the cow and its supposed return are a burden for the house it belongs to. The nuances of Kashmiri culture, its hospitality and its ways prove to be cumbersome while in the background an indefinite curfew rages on to make things worse in an unfortunate pairing of propriety and misery.

From My Memory to Her Heart – A Poem by Khawar Khan Achakzai

From My Memory to Her Heart – A Poem by Khawar Khan Achakzai

On August 5, 2019, Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution were revoked to enforce the status of Union Territory on the state of Jammu and Kashmir without democratic consent from the Kashmiri people. As a measure to quell expected upheaval, the internet, TV channels, mobile telephony, landlines, press, public transport and air travel were taken out of circulation by government order while more Indian troops were moved into the Himalayan territory. In the pitch drop silence of indefinite siege, a poet wrote from his memory to “her heart” not knowing when his message would get across, while even houses from adjacent neighborhoods were left without communication with one another. This poem by Khawar Khan Achakzai is a reminder-in-verse of that time still fresh in the collective memory of Kashmir and its peoples, and a testament to the fact that no lockdown, siege or territory-wide curfew can keep a longing Kashmiri heart from beating.

Kashmiri Haecceity — A Poem by Saba Zahoor

Kashmiri Haecceity — A Poem by Saba Zahoor

Saba Zahoor’s poem on Kashmir presents her place of origin as existing outside of a human-made time. Through her verses, the poet traverses multiple histories and addresses Kashmir as a being, an entity that has endured the heavy burdens of history. In that, Kashmir is a woman, an old woman who does not break, but withers slowly into inexistence or unbeing.

“Nothing moved except the mirage”: Analysing Fear and Freedom in Adania Shibli’s Minor Detail — by Dr. Chaandreyi Mukherjee

“Nothing moved except the mirage”: Analysing Fear and Freedom in Adania Shibli’s Minor Detail — by Dr. Chaandreyi Mukherjee

Dr. Chaandreyi Mukherjee presents an academic paper that is also a book review for Palestinian author Adania Shibli’s 2020 novel, “Minor Detail” (New Directions). A finalist for the National Book Award, “Minor Detail” is one of the most relevant works of contemporary Palestinian literature that connects 1949 and the Nakba with present day Palestine—as its protagonist digs into the past to uncover horrific truths. Mukherjee’s response and writing on the novel and its many themes is essential to understanding the greater depth to be found in decades of Israeli occupation over Palestinian land and life. The academic not only includes relevant criticism within this piece but also integrates theoretical formulations and observations by various scholars and thinkers that are pertinent to her own readings, such that through her ‘book-review-as-academic-paper’ one gets access to entire bodies and fields of knowledge, from postcolonial theory to resistance literature. Just as “Minor Detail” tells the story of a people and their larger history by means of a protagonist, Dr. Mukherjee’s paper offers multiple vectors of understanding in order to facilitate incisive critical engagement with this recent work of Palestinian literature.

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.

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.

Knowledge is like Teher.
A handful of cooked rice
a humble offering
to ward off the grief
from an entire century.
Whosoever receives Teher
does so with blessings
and well wishes.
Today the T in Teher
is the T in Taaleem
just as the K in Kashmir
is the K in your name.
From Teōtīhuacān to Tral
we make a humble offering.

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