DisOrient X

You’ve read about some of this on my main site which is called Trinketization so I’m also posting it here just to try to achieve blanket coverage in my own claustromaniac world. Details in text and on the flyer as jigged by the design team that is Anamik Saha.

Dis-Orient X – friday 17 November

Ten years after the book Dis-Orienting Rhythms: the Politics of the New Asian Dance Music (zen books 1996) we’ve decided to have a party (or a wake) and discuss, and dance, about the new world disorder.

Workshop Goldsmiths Cinema – 3pm – 6pm

speakers – Sonia from ADFED, Anamik Saha of Goldsmiths, Sanjay Sharma, John Hutnyk, Aki Nawaz showing the new Fun-da-mental video, & panel discussion chaired by Ash Sharma…
finish 6pm


From 7.30pm (after hungry folks have eaten at a local diner):

Dis-Orient X club night New Cross Inn 7.30 – 12.

New Cross Inn is on New Cross Rd next to “the venue”
with Aki Nawaz from Fun-da-mental and SPARK! on the decks

– a benefit for the 1857 Indian war of Independence Commemoration Committee
(donation at the door)

All welcome
(special discount offer on the controversial F-D-M album “ALL IS WAR” on the night)

Come along. Bring friends.

BSG Circles

You’ll find lots of interesting stuff on Ange’s blog ‘Sometimes’, but I must confess I was pleasantly surprised to find she’s a BSG fan – her compendium/aggregation of BSG posts from elsewhere is the best I’ve seen.
Check: here

But these sorts of interests can cause havoc in the US – here my good friend Ted gets grief from the Right in Arkansas. Ted is a prospective BSG fan, a ‘post-terrorist’ (!!!) apparently, and he posts as frequently as I do about FDM.
Point your RSS reader at: this.

Ashis "ahast" but having fun

English, the Mother Goddess
By Shashwati on History

A rather vivid account of Lord Macauley’s 206th birthday celebration in the Indian Express. The event was organized by Dalit leader Chandrabhan Prasad, which included the unveiling of a portrait of English, the Mother Goddess:

Dalit poet Parak sang a couplet to the portrait – a refashioned Statue of Liberty, wearing a hippie hat, holding a massive pink pen, standing on a computer, with a blazing map of India in the background – “Oh, Devi Ma/ Please Let us Learn English/ Even the dogs understand English”, to cheers and laughter, even as Lord Macaulay’s portrait, looking the perfect English buccaneer, gazed below.

Alas, I haven’t been able to find an image of the portrait. Prasad’s reveres Macauley because:

…his insistence to teach the “natives” English broke the stranglehold of Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic teaching, a privilege of only the elite castes and, he argued,for the European kind of modern education, with focus on modern sciences. “Imagine, if we had only followed indigenous study,’’ said Bhan, “we would be like Afghanistan or Nepal today.’’……“Today, English-speaking Dalits and Adivasis are less disrespected, therefore, empowered by Goddess English, Dalits can take their place in the new globalised world.’’

An interesting contrast to the view of Hindu Nationalists, for whom “Macaulay’s Children” is a favored insult for members of the English speaking Indian intelligentsia:

“They are not real people, but zombies programmed by Macaulay to act like the Caliban, the slave”.

Much as I enjoy the irony of using Shakespeare to advance the Hindutva agenda, I am much more inclined to sympathize with Ashis Nandy who seems to have had a jolly time at the party:

“I certainly do not agree with some of Bhan’s thesis,’’ said an aghast Nandy, “but I certainly support every oppressed community or individual’s right to pick up any weapon, be it political, academic or intellectual incorrectness, to fight the establishment. It’s the sheer audacity of it that makes it so forceful.’’



Metafisaticuffs – I can feel my eyes glaze over in slow motion whenever anyone says the word “ontology”. Its thrown about like a big wet cod, the sort you might find riding a bicycle in a Guinness ad. Ontofukcycle posturing deserves a slap – even happy slappery. Where’s my camera-phone.


Its twenty years ago today since the Writing/Culture volume by Clifford and Marcus came out and summed up the ‘raging’ debates in anthro at the time about authority and style and surrealism and text. Contemporary anthro undergrads will yawn. But there has been a backlash and a backlash to the backlash. While I can’t (yet) bear to revisit my 1987 rendition of why I thought all that was a(n “interesting”) problem, I am happy to respond to a request to say something about dialogue – or rather to resurrect what I had to say – in an obscure coda to something else – on “dialogue” back in 1993. This was at the end of a review essay on Nikos Papastergiadis’s book on John Berger, Modernity as Exile, the rest of the paper was probably better than this, but my jaudiced view tonight makes this seem kinda ok… [I guess this is a closet cleaner moment]:

The fashionable themes in social science storytelling of recent years — those of dialogue” and “text” — might challenge the voyeuristic tone and outlook of previous studies. This has sometimes been more explicitly politicised where anthropological “conversation” with its others — never unproblematical — is understood with various degrees of reflection upon hierarchies of power between interlocutors placed differently — culturally, socially, institutionally, and so on.

I think the most productive area of the social sciences for this debate has been ethnography. The recognition that meaning is socially constructed, and that texts are not simply produced by singular “authors” goes some way towards elucidation of the political stakes of social science writing, but never far enough. The versions of this debate with which I am most familiar came to me in the form of a review essay by Crick (1982) and subsequent work on debates about fieldwork and texts, eventually resulting in the publication of Writing/Culture edited by Clifford and Marcus (1986). That volume of essays has been the departure point for interesting developments beyond Writing/Culture up until the early 1990s.

The main point to emphasise in the debates surrounding Writing/Culture is that the production of any text is not something separate from the social and political context in which it is made. However, those who have discussed the “text metaphor” in recent years have, I think, largely missed this point. The discussion of dialogue as a fragile trace of lived experience difficult to capture to some degree responds to this dilemma.

True, the linearity of writing cannot capture the life-world in full, as Fernandez noted in is essay on “misgivings” about the text as metaphor for ethnography. He has recognised the argument that “a great deal of the rich complexity of communication is lost in ‘writing it down’” (Fernandez 1985:16). Textuality then is hardly going to be dialogue. Much of the debate that animated anthropology in the
eighties entailed a close attention to the writing process glossed as a joint authorship of texts and meaning with “participant-informants”. Fernandez went on to criticise faith in the textual metaphor for social life by pointing out that even “the most complex orthographic system, abundant with diacritical marks, cannot capture all the nuances of human communication en vive” (Fernandez 1985:16).

A political edge to the commentary on “postmodern ethnography” which seems to be missing in Fernandez’s approach to texts is offered by a Chicago based group who take up the issue of textuality and recast it as a negotiated politics. The self-reflexivity of so-called postmodern ethnography keeps attention focused on the point of authorial control and does not challenge the political privilege and “location” of the author of texts. The Chicago group elaborate this by pointing out that a writer is “born” partly into a set of affiliations that are not chosen:

so the affiliation of your knowledge is less the product of a free choice than something to negotiate. Affiliations are relations you make, and part of the question is how you deploy the ones you’re in (CCSG 1992:548).

I think it is strange that Fernandez wonders whether any further working of the “terrain” of the text metaphor would be “superfluous” (Fernandez 1985:26n). His “chosen deployment” is to stress the importance of dialogic texts, saying that “the voices of [our] interlocution must be present in some form in the final form of our work to be sure that we do not wilfully substitute our own voice for those local voices” (Fernandez 1985:20).

The crucial slippage, is that these recordings are never local, they are already globally inflected. Nevertheless, Fernandez retains the ideal of an anthropology that, “if it was practised right [would] return…from the field with much recorded text, recorded as faithfully and as accurately as method and rapport would allow” (Fernandez 1985:15). In what the Chicago group might call a “self-congratulatory tone”, these recorded texts are the “local voices” to be allowed expression through the anthropologist’s conscious effort at “turn taking” (Fernandez 1985:23). They are not to be distorted by the analyses applied by practitioners of the “textual approach” who monopolise control by insisting on “reading” and ‘interpretation’, which simply sets up a new (equally false) objectivity. Fernandez sees the “attitudes of distance, removal and irony” that he finds in the “model of the text”, as an “ethnocentric celebration of tradition” (1985:15).

In an earlier intervention into this debate, Paul Rabinow had applauded the work of Kevin Dwyer. The deficiencies of the usual anthropological interpretations were, according to Dwyer, to be countered by emphasizing the “dialogic” nature of work in the field. Anthropologists engage in dialogues with “others”, thus transcribed dialogue was seen as the most approximate representation of anthropological contact. When Dwyer proposed to the Faqir — his Moroccan “informant” — that taped conversations made on a visit three and a half years earlier might be published, the Faqir’s assent was transcribed in the subsequent book in dialogic form (Dwyer 1982:xix-xxi). In this way, the assent was authenticated through this transcription, even though tone and context were not discernible in the written words. In verité social science, the cassette recorder is taken to be unable to misrepresent the actual spoken. Recording is a technology of authority.

Vincent Crapanzano has recently drawn attention to the status of recorded dialogues and takes issue with the “interpreters” who assume they “can engage in dialogue” with: “recordings, texts, and other materials” (Crapanzano 1992:197). This is an error in three parts; the first of these is the error of “taking a metaphorical relationship (the interpretation of a text is like a dialogue) nonmetaphorically. The second involves a failure “to recognise that the dialogue with which the interpreter is now dialoguing is no longer a dialogue but is a ‘dialogue’ — the theme of another dialogue”. The third, and rather more acerbically expressed, error grants to the interpreter “a super-human ability to bracket off secondary dialogues and their language” (Crapanzano 1992:197). Crapanzano’s scepticism of the dialogic “turn” is worth taking seriously.

In Moroccan Dialogues, Dwyer claims that: “the Faqir’s deeper aims … were somehow satisfied too” (Dwyer 1982:xvi). Yet the Faqir is recorded as saying to Dwyer that “All of this is good, all of it, because it serves your purposes. But for me, not a single thing serves mine” (Faqir in Dwyer 1982:226). Are we also to accept the veracity of this recording? The issue of dialogue could quite possibly sustain a separate study in itself. Robert Ulin has, in a review of the reflexive anthropology debate twenty years since the publication of Reinventing Anthropology (Hymes 1974), loosely mapped this debate between poles he names as Marxism and postmodernism: “The postmodernist emphasis on representation can provide a powerful corrective to positivist social science and the tendency in some versions of political-economy to reduce symbolically mediated social action to the instrumental process of labour” (Ulin 1991:64). Ulin’s attempt to “bridge the impasse” (Ulin 1991:63) between postmodernism and Marxism is possibly both too simple in construing its opposition, and too ambitious in attempting such a bridge, nevertheless despite this Habermaniacal naivéty and optimism, I agree that a “grounding of reflexivity in the metaphor of representation as ‘dialogical’” does come dangerously close to a “contemplative stance” which ignores “praxis and the plurality of subjects that negotiate the historical and political process” (Ulin
1991:64) of contemporary life.

If anthropologists like Paul Rabinow and Fernandez want to turn to studies of “power and privilege” so as to “move back into the world” (Rabinow 1985:12), they cannot extricate themselves from the worldly politics of textual production and dissemination. They have not given up their own textual affiliations, for they write in a global marketplace.

in an episteme where representation is privileged, the site of presence is always contested and power derives not only from controlling information but from controlling what people consider information to be. The site of presence and power now lies with people who are not only defined by ownership but by their control over information systems and systems of communication (Stratton 1990:26)


From: 1994 ‘Thinking With Berger: Local/Global and Dialogue in Modernity As Exile by Nikos Papastergiadis’, New Literatures Review, 27: 91-103. ISSN 03147495 Reprinted here


Iwo Jima outrage

In respect of the white-washed sands of Iwo Jima (suburb of Hollywood, made by Clint into a fantasy space where all American heros are John Wayne clones, an ideological confit that is ever so totally unrealated to Vietnam/Iraq type losses and the national trauma that arises therefrom). That historical cliches can be reworked with white actors only (director says ‘its true to the book’ – which makes us wonder about the director not just the book, right?). Anyway, its an outrage, but angular as ever, this post from Shashwati makes some really good connections:

Unknown Soldiers
I have been on the National Archives web page for the last couple of days, researching films and photos. While looking around, I found this photo:

“Rickshaws are almost as common in India as they are in China. Some of the…troops are on their way to see `Tarzan’s New York Adventure’—in India…”
African American soldiers going to see a Tarzan film in Calcutta. What can you say about that? It was interesting to find this in conjunction with the rumbles about the new Clint Eastwood film about the battle for Iwo Jima, where the absence of Black soldiers has been noticed by those who took part in it, like Sgt. McPhatter:

…almost 900 African-American troops took part in the battle of Iwo Jima, including Sgt McPhatter…..”Of all the movies that have been made of Iwo Jima, you never see a black face,” said Mr McPhatter. “This is the last straw. I feel like I’ve been denied, I’ve been insulted, I’ve been mistreated. But what can you do? We still have a strong underlying force in my country of rabid racism.”

And here is a tidbit about the newsreel footage from that time, from auhor Melton McLaurin:

“One of the marines I interviewed said that the people who were filming newsreel footage on Iwo Jima deliberately turned their cameras away when black folks came

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 24th, 2006 at 1:10 am

notes for Satanic Majesties Request paper

‘wawhat can a white boy do, but to sing for a rock and roll band?’

S. S. Sisodia, in Salman Rushdie’s politically incorrect Satanic Verses, stammers: “The trouble with the Engenglish is that their hiss hiss history happened overseas, so they don’t know what it means”. True enough, but this should in no way be mockery of stammerers, and I am discomforted by Rushdie now more than ever. Yet the point he makes about history is also relevant more now than ever. Sure the historical fault lies with education personnel and an administrators who have kept quiet about their Empire, or recruited pundits to excuse it (Simon bloody Schama, even now in audio book format), which – curriculum management enhanced strategy – buries any possibility of teaching that history critically with popularist flag-waving, dull media entertainments (variety quiz shows, Schama looking earnestly into the camera) and ball games (Empire games, Commonwealth Games – its hardly sporting old chap). Whatever Michael Palin might offer us on his travel tours, international working class solidarity is a more important a project, and an educational project that supports it, is crucial nowadays as ever before. The cotton mills of Manchester were closely linked to Calcutta, just as today’s MTV beams out to both cities regardless. We should watch these shows closely.

Maybe all we can achieve with (our) writing is to provide people with questions and ideas that allow them (us) to think through politics more clearly, more creatively, more. There can be no revolution without rev-revolutionary theory. There can be no rethinking without newnew thoughts.

‘ttttalking bout my generation’

Anglo interest in non-European music has a long pedigree, which it is no longer my job to trace, though I once thought it was. Suffice to say that my interest began as a very mainstream versionThe Rolling Stones, (especially Brian Jones e derived from the urban whiteboy blues of xplorations of Joujouka drumming in Morocco and an image of Keef Richards smoking kif in Tangiers); a passing acquaintance with experimental Indo-psychedelic music epitomised by such commercialisations as The Beatles Sgt Peppers’ and The White Album, and an early and never shaken interest in the writings of William Burroughs and Alan Ginsberg. This developed into an interest in why we are interested in Asia – and a book on budget traveller experience in Calcutta. Along the way an edited volume on the controversy surrounding Salman Rushdie’s celebrated work, and activist-led peripheral involvement in the music and rave scene in Australia, led me to various attempts to make sense of the ways English bands have included South Asia in their head space but not really got along with the politics, so, these notes for a paper on how white rock stumbled to the east.

“From Satanic Majesties to Satanic Verses: India in England yet again”.

The Rolling Stones, following The Beatles Sgt Peppers’ and the opening up of the India travel caravan (banana pancake trail with magic mushrooms), produced what some pundits label their least successful album in 1967: Their Satanic Majesties. It is a long way from the superficial Eastern flavour of that album too the burning of Rushdie’s Satanic Verses in Bradford streets a quarter of a century later, but despite the trite comparison of Jagger and Rushdie as public personifications of the devil (for different audiences to be sure), there are still interesting changes to be charted in the intervening years. Any attempt to comment on the relations between anglo interests and things Asian need to begin with an understanding of significant movements across the globe. Travel to India for the children of the English bourgeoisie has fluctuated from fashionable drug-scenery to adventure tour and on to military tours (Afghanistan has even generals sounding mutinous now), and important dynamics within the Sth Asian diasporic presence in Britain need to be lyricized. The success of Indian trinketry in the souvenir shops and fashion houses of the UK youth market might be contrasted to the flow of British based recordings into India – the mid-1990s success of Apache Indian and Bally Sagoo for example.

What might still be interesting would be to explore these cultural forms – from the Stones to Zadie Smith serialized on C4 – for evidence that could provide an understanding of the contemporary dynamics of neo-imperialism and global order as it changes and as its screened for us in Bliar’s Britain. Such a project might update and contemporise Said’s historical and nineteenth century interest in the traces of Empire in Dickens and his ilk.

There is much written on the phenomenon called Global Music. Of course there are ways in which this can be categorised as a commodification process intricately linked to the global spread of capitalist marketeering of all cultural forms. But within this there are demarcations to be made, and the relative silence still accorded the influence of politically charged South Asian creativities in the Global Music discourse might be indicative of more important politically potent occlusions. Where Blues and Reggae are well established as antecedents of popular ‘Western’ music, the influence of the East always seems to be presented as a peripheral, curious, or at best experimental aside, if accorded any centrality at all. Why? Since in terms of Empire India was so central, Calcutta was the second most important city in the world, so muck-much of European culture can be traced to Asia (from pajamas to umbrellas, goodness gracious me – see Hobson-Jobson). I keep on saying, what would it be to write the history of Empire from a perspective outside of Euro-America? Say from Calcutta, or departing from the disaffected experimental out-of-his-mindset of a stoned Stone or a migrant-resident Indglish Sisodia-stuttering Intefada cursed crossover (both after all go for market share, belong to a well-to-do class fraction, profess a certain degree of – Ltd – left politics, and have been labelled devilish)?….

Note 2009 – of course Ted already started out on this too: here.


As well as being the 150th anniversary of what is variously called the first all-India anti colonial war, or, in the words of English revisionists, the ‘mutiny’, 2007 will also be the 40th anniversary of Naxalbari. To remind myself and to follow up on the previous post about Mahasweta Devi, I’ve extracted a couple of pages from my Critique of Exotica (2000) – Lal Salaam.

Charu Mazumdar was born in 1918, studied at Edwards College at Pabna (now Bangladesh), and joined the CPI in 1938. He had been involved in the Tebhaga revolutionary movement and was arrested in its post-1947 phase (Banerjee 1984: 320). Later he worked as an organiser amongst tea plantation workers in Darjeeling’s Siliguri area where he was born. For several years before 1967 he and other then CPI(M) comrades had been building connections amongst the Santal peasantry. It was with these people, in Naxalbari, in the Darjeeling foothills, that the uprising began which was to give its name to a range of militant struggles over the next ten years. That the Naxalbari uprising, which first consisted of seizure of lands from rich landlords, destruction of debt records for bonded labour and hounding of money-lenders from the area, was soon put down by the police, is a matter of record (Ram 1972; Sen Gupta 1972). Debate over the subsequent consequences and importance of the uprising raged. The development of a Maoist political movement, the formation of a new communist party – Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), of which Mazumdar became the General Secretary – and the extension of agrarian struggles to other parts of India, especially Andhara Pradesh and the Panjab, were a greater legacy (see Chatterjee 1997a: 92).

The Naxalbari peasantry and tribal peoples had good cause to fight. Naxalite demands addressed frustration on the part of the peasantry with the years of ‘high sounding words, grandiose plans, reforms galore’ (Rai and Prasad 1973: 458) by the Nehru administration. While green revolution farming methods had opened opportunities for the middle and landowning classes, the tribal and peasant farmers had already been dispossessed of land and so also of the opportunity to invest in the fertilisers and seeds of the green revolution advance. Thus the disjunction between landowners and peasants led to a wider dissatisfaction. An early list of Naxalite demands was reported as:

The first priority is … forcible occupation of lands belonging to big landlords … overthrow of the existing big bourgeoisie rule of the country … and the immediate withdrawal of India from the Commonwealth … so that India would range herself against American and British imperialism. (in Ghose 1971: 447–8)

The swift retaliation of the police against Naxalbari did not prevent leaders like Charu Mazumdar continuing and extending the struggle through the politicisation of other regions, of peasant, tribal and student sectors. This entailed calling on students not to let the ‘electoral politics of the revisionist parties’ divert them like an ‘obscene film’ and for them to attend to the ‘century old cry of the landless poor peasantry’ and stand by their side, moving forward ‘with arms in our hands like the guerrillas of Vietnam’ (from a leaflet entitled ‘Students and Youth: Unite with Workers and Landless Peasants, Unite, Unite with Them’, reproduced in Damas 1991: 206–8). The formation of the All-India Coordinating Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (AICCCR) and subsequently the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) in May 1969 were convoluted steps in this process. The new revolutionary party (CPI-ML) was announced by Kanu Sanyal from the rostrum of that year’s May Day rally in the large expanse of Calcutta’s Maidan park (Banerjee 1984: 131).

The extension of Maoist struggle to other areas did not proceed without internal tensions amongst the Naxalite cadres. The Andhara Naxalites, for example, did not join the new party formation because of a dispute over Mazumdar’s interpretation of Mao Zedong’s strategic principles (or MTTT: Mao Tse-Tung Thought [see Mohanty 1979]) – they were also possibly remembering the Central directive to capitulate at Telengana. It was reported that ‘the domineering attitude of the leading figures … from West Bengal alienated more and more Naxalite groups besides the Andhara Committee’ (Rai and Prasad 1973: 473). Sushital Ray Chaudhury, from the Andhara group said that ‘Mazumdar’s interpretation of the word annihilation was without doubt against Mao Tse-Tung thought’ (in Ghosh 1971: 136). The slogan of ‘annihilation of the class enemy’, celebrated in the war word khatam (see Banerjee 1984: 112; Seth 1995 [i]), was thought to have led to ‘indiscriminate killing [which] would only isolate the party from the masses by forfeiting their sympathy’ (Rai and Prasad 1973: 477). The criticism was raised that Mazumdar was not relying on the masses as Mao had prescribed, as, according to Chatterjee (himself a Birbhum Naxalite) much of the peasant support of the movement had turned into passive sympathy by the end of 1969 (Ghosh 1971: 147). Against this Mazumdar countered that ‘only after guerrilla squads had cleared an area of “class enemies” by annihilating some of them and forcing others to flee the countryside, should revolutionary peasant committees be formed’ (Rai and Prasad 1973: 475). [ii] The procedure of operating in small and secret cells was in part a necessity forced by the brutal response of the state as ‘mass actions were likely to expose the guerrilla fighters to the forces of law and order’ (Rai and Prasad 1973: 475). The move of the struggle into the urban metropolis of Calcutta after the decision of the Party in April 1970 to extend operations into industrial areas was designed to address the apparent failure of hartals (strikes) and other conventional methods of struggle which had been ‘largely blunted against organised capitalist attacks in the form of lock-out, lay-off, and closures’ (Ghosh 1971: 444). This change of programme born of ‘a certain suspicion of the communist preoccupation with trade unions’, of their ‘economism’ (Seth 1995: 493), meant increased mobilisation of student revolutionaries which necessarily complicated internal party relations. Mass action was also difficult in the city, but in the years of 1970 and 1971 more and more frequent incidents escalated the conflict with the police who, having faced a number of ‘annihilations’ themselves, adopted a ‘shoot to kill’ policy (Damas 1991: 97). In response, those students who had followed the call of the CPI(ML) to leave the city and live and work in the peasant areas, drew the anger of the police upon themselves, conspicuous as they were as students living in villages and in the apparent absence of the secretive guerrillas, they bore the brunt of the repressive reaction.

The Chinese Communist Party had welcomed the Naxalites with banner headlines in 1969 – it was the Peking Review of 14 July 1967 that declared ‘A peal of thunder has crashed over the land of India’ (reproduced in Damas 1991: 276–9). But their support for the CPI(ML) lasted only two and a half years, after which they intervened in the conflict between Mazumdar and the other leaders: ‘It was not until after Peking had indicated its serious reservations about Charu Mazumdar’s leadership and tactical line that dissent in the party began snowballing into revolt, leading to his virtual isolation before his arrest’ (Ram 1972). Mazumdar’s life came to an end on 28 July 1972 as a result of a heart attack in police custody a few days after his arrest in – he was refused adequate medical treatment and was not taken to hospital until 27 July, a mere 24 hours before his demise (Banerjee 1984: 321). In assessing the tactical line of the CPI(ML), it is of course difficult to sort out the factional squabbles and attribute cause and blame. Certainly the fragmentation of the Naxalites into several separate groups has persisted up to the present, but this factor is not a sufficient explanation of the decline of the movement. Rather, the role of the police in ‘conducting raids, tortures and indiscriminate arrests … in order to force people to make a choice in favour of the police against the Naxalites’ (Ghosh 1971: 155) was important alongside the conflict with the CPI(M). With its secret cell invisibility and displaced student cadres caught up in a factional war of attrition with other communists who should have been comrades, it is understandable that the ‘romance’ of the Naxalites faded under this pressure, as Duyker explains:

the movement was doomed because the CPI (M-L) was no match for the ruthless organised power of the state. When the cost to the [Santal] tribal community (in casualties, arrested menfolk, confiscated food supplies and disrupted cultivation) appeared too great to continue the struggle, Santal-Naxalite resistance crumbled. (Duyker 1981: 258–9)

When the movement ‘developed cracks’ the students and peasants on the fringe of the movement ‘opted for Congress because no other party could protect them from the police’ (Ghosh 1971: 129).

The role of the state in suppressing the Naxalite movement was one that extended across India, but in Bengal it was also fratricidal communist rivalries that had a hand in the slaughter. The received ‘official’ version has been distilled by Bandyopadhyay from Sumanta Banerjee’s excellent book In the Wake of Naxalbari: [iii]

With increasing help from the Centre and imported paramilitary and military forces, police retaliation against the CPI(M-L) urban guerrillas began to gain momentum from the last quarter of 1970. No mercy was shown to any CPI(M-L)cadre or supporter if caught … The CPI(M) felt threatened because of another reason. The mid-term poll was scheduled to be held in March 1971. While the CPI(M) was preparing for the elections, the CPI(M-L) urban actions were disrupting the status quo and threatening the electoral polls … To ensure smooth voting for its supporters, the CPI(M) sought to clear its strongholds of ‘Naxalite elements’ … A bloody cycle of interminable assaults and counter-assaults, murders and vendetta was initiated. The ranks of both the CPI(M) and CPI(M-L) dissipated their militancy in mutual fightings leading to the elimination of a large number of their activists, and leaving the field open to the police. (Banerjee, excerpted in Bandyopadhyay 1986: x–xi) (fn 3)[iv]

Does this story of factional strife, leadership squabble, and parliamentarist opportunism tell it how it was or is? Of course it is a partial account, and contestation by competing traditions makes any evaluation from afar difficult.[v]

[i] Charu Mazumdar proposed a liquidation of ‘the political, economic and social authority of the class enemy’ (Mazumdar 1969: 13, quoted in Seth 1995: 498), and this started:

only by liquidating the feudal classes in the countryside … this campaign for the annihilation of the class enemy can be carried out only by inspiring the poor and landless peasants with the politics of establishing the political power of the peasants in the countryside by destroying the dominant feudal classes. (Mazumdar Dec. 1969 quoted in Banerjee 1984: 112).

[ii] It is worth noting that these are interpretations of interpretations. Even to the extent that Charu Mazumdar can be considered representative of one kind of Naxalite, this has no chance but to be (mis)read through the thickets of sect and faction, and outsider commentary, that have accrued in the 30 years since the founding of the CPI(ML). This of course is the problem with all contested history – my interest here is only to note that my readings would also read in a particular and partial way, my interest being not merely to encourage informed attention to communist struggle.

[iii] This was first published in 1980 in Calcutta, but reissued in 1984 under the title: India’s Simmering Revolution: The Naxalite Uprising by Zed Books, London.

[iv] Sumanta Banerjee goes further than the excerpted passage quoted here. Referring to then Home Minister Jyoti Basu seeking assistance from the Eastern Frontier Rifles, a central force, to suppress the movement, he writes:

The party [CPI(M)] believed in controlled violence in rural areas aimed at minor goals, like wage increase for agricultural labourers or restitution of land … A certain amount of agitation, often bordering on violence, suited the CPI(M) or the other parliamentary leftist parties, as long as it was contained within limits and controlled by the leaders, and did not attack the roots of the prevailing system by trying to seize political power. Since they were members of a united front of heterogeneous classes, the CPI(M) wanted to make the peasants believe that they were carrying the flag of the revolution and were out to destroy the status quo, and the middle class believe that they were arresting the danger which threatened them, and the Centre that they were faithful to the Constitution. (Banerjee 1984: 140)

[v] For example, it is tempting to make a judgement as to the contemporary fortunes of the Basu-led CPI(M) Communists in Bengal. Mallick suggests their effort has failed, they themselves of course suggest a degree of success. Here, although the examples of communist struggle that might be cited do not always, or indeed primarily, refer to parliamentarism, it is true that a degree of electoral success, at least in terms of years in power, has long been the preserve of this section of the Communist movement in Bengal. Though it was not always so. Since 1967 CPI(M) Communists have dominated the state government for all but a few years of President’s rule (and Jyoti Basu has now been in charge for over 20 years). This context introduces specific conditions for any evaluation of struggles. Mallick writes:

The Indian Communist movement is unique in operating within the institutions of a parliamentary democracy not unlike that of the industrialised West, while trying to develop a base in conditions of extreme poverty and exploitation. India combines many of the institutions of an advanced capitalist state with cultural and economic conditions often not far removed from feudalism. (Mallick 1993: 21)

That these ‘feudal’ conditions were the main contradiction faced by activists in India is the most obvious context in which to evaluate parliamentarism. The poor, those in bonded labour, the landless peasantry, the disenfranchised labourers on tea estates, plantations, in rural agriculture and urban industry – formal and informal sectors – provides a massive constituency of a communist politics.

References are available in Critique of Exotica.

‘Combating Terrorism by Countering Radicalisation’


For information purposes (or should that be dis-informations proposals) … Regarding meetings in British Universities to discuss new gov.terror research programs. Our very own Camelot, yet again.

Meanwhile, today even the Generals are talking mutinous talk it seems, perhaps….


> Dear all,
> This is the information relating to the third item on the agenda that
> I have just circulated. Some of you know about this already, but now
> that the scheme is coming to fruition and projects are to be funded, I
> think that it is essential that we discuss and reflect on the implications
> of these developments. The matter has been raised with me most recently by
> Martha Mundy, David Seddon and Glen Bowman, and
> Martha and David have already taken up the issues with the UK Middle
> Eastern Studies Association. I have copied in a circular letter that
> Martha has drafted on the problems that the scheme and its mode of
> implementation pose. David attended one of the by invitation meetings to
> which Martha refers yesterday. It was sparsely attended and pertinent
> questions from david and other participants did not produce satisfactory
> responses or assurances from the Programme Director or ESRC officials. If
> you read Martha’s letter and then examine the attached ESRC call for
> proposals and supporting country/region documents, then I think the scale
> of the problems this poses (from conception to execution) will become all
> too painfully apparent.
> I would like to promote as wide awareness and discussion as possible
> of this and other manifestations of the “war against terror’s” increasing
> influence on academic life (such as the presence of security personnel at
> academic events), so you might want to distribute this to other members of
> staff and maybe discuss it formally before the 28th. I will be happy to
> write to ESRC and AHRC expressing our collective views, perhaps on the
> lines that Martha has already laid out, but assuming that the scheme goes
> ahead as planned that is not likely to be the end of the matter and we
> really do need to consider the deeper and longer term implications
> All the best
> John
> Martha’s letter:
> Dear Colleague,
> You will find below and in attachment information received by email
> concerning an FCO-AHRC-ESRC research programme entitled ‘Combating
> Terrorism by Countering Radicalisation’. For three major reasons this
> initiative promises to be very damaging to the reputation of British
> academic research: because of the design of the programme itself, because
> of the risk to researchers working overseas it entails, and because of the
> lack of transparency in the sponsorship and selection process. I am
> therefore asking you, after reading the appended material, either to write
> yourself to the funding councils or to indicate back to me that you share
> the concerns outlined below and would like to pursue a collective
> response.
> Let me briefly summarize the three sets of problems raised by the
> initiative.
> 1) The programme entails a series of extremely specific
> intelligence-driven questions that start from the premise of a link between
> Islam, radicalisation (nowhere defined!) and terrorism. It is
> the role of academic research to provide good basic knowledge of the
> various regions; this requires relatively free funding for research, on
> which, of course, intelligence reports will in turn draw. But this
> programme puts the cart before the horse, even on its own terms, and will
> result in poor scientific knowledge about the regions, countries and
> phenomena that the programme identifies as central. Scholars need to
> enjoy a degree of intellectual independence and self-guidance that this
> programme does not allow.
> 2) In many of the countries and regions specified in the programme, a
> researcher who attempted on the ground – not from an office-chair in the
> United Kingdom – to conduct research into the questions posed by the
> programme could be placed in physical danger either from local religious or
> nationalist actors or from the relevant state governments themselves. In a
> context where the international reputation of the United Kingdom
> (following recent wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon) is poor,
> funding British researchers to pursue an overtly security-research agenda
> abroad is likely to endanger perhaps not just their reputation but also
> their physical well-being. As Doctoral Programme Director in the
> Anthropology Department of the LSE I regularly countersign the
> ethics and risk-assessment statements of our doctoral researchers. Should
> they propose research of the kind required by this programme in a country
> such as Nigeria or Sudan (two of the selected countries), it would be
> contrary to my professional ethics to ignore the possible risk the
> doctoral candidate would face. Presumably the programme was written by
> security studies experts who have little or no experience of field
> research in the areas Dear of South-East, Central and South Asia, The Arab
> World, and relevant African countries concerned by the
> initiative. In relation to both the current world-class status of British
> research and the personal security of researchers in the field, this
> initiative is problematic as potentially threatening both.
> 3) Inquiries to the ESRC by Professor David Seddon reveal that this
> programme has not been openly advertised but was designed by an invited
> group of academics meeting July 10th ; on October 12th/13th meetings are
> to be held in London and Edinburgh to which certain academics are invited
> (I myself happen to be on the list presumably because I was
> major panel member for the Arabic Language funding initiative of the two
> councils last year). Closing date for proposals will be November 8th and
> decision will be forthcoming in January, a ‘Commissioning Panel of
> academic and user experts to be convened’ [see attached Call for
> Proposals.doc]. The programme is not to be openly advertised; rather,
> selected applicants are to be invited to proceed with final applications
> for the funding. Apparently the funding derives largely from the Foreign
> Office and the AHRC. Given this fact, it would be appropriate
> that Foreign Office (as the US State Department has done in offering
> research grants) take over the direct administration of the programme.
> Such a programme should be neither funded by, nor administered through,
> the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social
> Research Council, as it violates the principles of open advertisement
> and transparent competition which guarantee the excellence and independence
> of British council-funded research. If the Foreign Office believes that
> programme is in its interest, then it should administer the grants itself,
> and academics choosing to participate can do so under that body. But the
> rest of British university research overseas and the good practices of the
> funding councils must be safeguarded against direct association with
> intelligence-gathering exercises.
> Martha Mundy
> Reader in Anthropology
> London School of Economics>
[note: I have not yet seen the ‘attached call for proposals.doc, funnily enough -J]

Notes for Devi

I want you,
To write poetry,
To compose songs,
To form an
I want you to race your horses,
Through the blood of the
Let the workers come out from their factories
With a pledge to
If you accept this proposal,
Well and good!
If not,
You will remain in my world
A mere flippant playmate
In some poem or
(from ‘To the Sun’, poem from jail, Cherabandaraju)

You who have made the mistake of being born in this country
must now rectify it: either leave the country,
or make war!
(from ‘You who have made the mistake’, Baburao Bagul)

All parties, those to the Left and those to the Right alike, have failed to keep their promises to the common people. There is little prospect of any significant change in these things, at least in my lifetime. Hence I have to go on writing to the best of my ability in defence of the dispossessed and the disinherited, so that I may never have reason too feel ashamed to face myself. For all writers are accountable too their own generation and have to answer for themselves
(Mahesweta Devi, ‘Author’s Preface’ to
Bashai Tudu)

With a much bigger work on revolutionary songs and writing in mind, and in anticipation of the upcoming 150th anniversary of the first Indian War of Independence (about which we meet on Sunday to organise a commemoration/celebration – see the link in the biblio below), here are some initial rambling notes starting from these two fragments of poetry and a couple of sentences from an introduction to a short story having to do with tribal and peasant struggles, and writing, in India. I cannot attempt a study of those struggles myself – there are fine books available written in India such as that by Sumanta Banerjee: India’s Simmering Revolution; Barbara Joshi (ed): Untouchable!: Voices of the Dalit Liberation Movement‘; and Mahesweta Devi Bashai Tudu, among others, and all of which are essential reading. But there is space, perhaps, for a discussion of one aspect of the role of writing in political struggles – even as this is considered at a considerable distance from the geographical site of such struggles. While reading such poets is it strange to be interested in the status of such writings as translated, published and circulated in quite diverse contexts by a far-reaching publishing apparatus, bookstores, footnotes, libraries, blogosphere. This would be another variant of an old routine, often overdone I think, but beginning with questions about authorship.

The question of who writes is interesting in the case of Mahesweta Devi. A writer who conceives her writing as a part of the fight against oppression and exploitation of the tribal people of India and who says she writes on such matters so as to know she has not done nothing, so she can live with herself, even though she also thinks the task is hopeless and that the situation is getting worse.

She is translated by Gayatri Spivak, deconstructionist/marxist/feminist, critical cultural studies figure. Through Spivak’s translations and commentary Mahesweta Devi has became known to the academic classes worldwide. Spivak had first taken up this work as a way to explore the problem of her positioning as an Indian born postcolonial intellectual writing within the Western academic industry. She once said she did not know “how to speak to women out there” and problematised the issue of how academic work might ‘help’ those who are oppressed – while there would be no illusion that translating work is an answer to this problem, it does seem that Spivak’s engagement with these writings is a development in response to the charge of relevance, and a commitment to active struggle. Subsequently the translation work has become a larger, longer, long-term commitment, which extends to more and more volumes (published by Seagull Books) and quietly wins Spivak much-deserved translation awards.

Many of Mahesweta Devi’s stories are about tribals fighting oppression, resisting exploitation, rebelling against authority. Such stories have, many agree, an immediacy and commitment that is not often found, including amongst tribal writers themselves. Though there is a strong tradition of writing among tribals and Dalits, especially fostered by the Dalit Panther movement.
Amongst the most prominent themes of Dalit poetry is a refrain that calls upon all members of society to either ‘wage war’ or ‘leave the country’ (a somewhat more urgent and insistent variant of the slogan: ‘if you are not looking for a solution you are part of the problem’). There are other examples.

The status of these differently placed writers – poet, author, translator – might be raised in a way that questions the role of intellectuals within political struggles – and its not simply that these roles are distinct – the tribal and Dalit poets, perhaps imprisoned, writing-as-struggle; are not necessarily far from the middle-class writer writing in solidarity with the oppressed peoples; who is not always divorced from the first-world ‘post-colonial’ theorist translating for a global market; there are criticisms of ‘position’ to be made in each of these cases, and reasons to support and endorse the political work also, within the apparatus of texts and books and print.

That Devi sees her writing as commitment is unquestioned. Yet sometimes her despairing conclusion that nothing can be done to reverse the continued exploitation of tribals under an uncompromising system is unanswerable in a way that might paralyse. Yet this provokes because her assessment takes critical account of the fact that the left parties have not organised around tribal issues because of vote dependency upon groupings such as the middle peasantry and the urban working class, who are higher in the Indian social hierarchy. She claims she must write in favour of the oppressed so as to never feel ashamed to face herself – and if this seems a particularly middle-class anxiety that would not be shared by the Naxalite poets languishing in Presidency Jail, it is exactly the kind of problem which has exercised the thoughts of the Presidency College trained Spivak and the distance – that Spivak herself would be first to point to – is part of the point.

The poetry of some Dalit writers is wholly infused with the routines of organised political opposition, and sometimes seems overburdened with the wooden exhortations to struggle, to organise, to agitate that are the staple of manifestos and pamphlets. At the other end of the spectrum, if these were just glossy narratives about tribal struggles only for the display tables of Western bookstores, marketed under the signature of a prominent deconstructionist/feminist/Marxist critic, carries a burden of over-determination which might seem wholly irrelevant and inappropriate to those involved today in particular tribal struggles. Yet perhaps all these are the sites of engagement that must coexist in a transnational context, and despite the differences of local and global, of immediacy and generality (from poetry in jail, to middle-class Bengali solidarity, to the reading rooms of the academy) these are somehow what we want to become circuits of ‘the same’ struggle.

The questions that are to be raised here include that of the authorisation of the one who writes, and adjacent to this of the one who translates. The implied audience, motive, identity – Devi writes so as to be able to face herself; Spivak writes to wake up slumbering first-world audiences; a Naxalite poet like Samir Ray writes in anger and as a call to comrades to organise – are all somewhat unusual here, and in each case now belong to a context where immediate and personal writing is translated and distributed through powerful and extensive global networks. The notion of self deployed by the one who writes, and how this may or may not be somewhat different in translation deserves to be considered in the light of how this is related to a middle-class anxiety about the role of intellectual work, and to the general position of intellectuals to activist movements. (Gramsci’s discussion of the organic intellectual, the intellectual capacity of all workers, the choice of the intellectual to work with the subaltern or the oppressor – the rewards of the latter). This question ‘who writes’ is often a masquerade of criticism which achieves little but continued job security for the named author (‘Hutnyk’ at Goldsmiths for example etc)

So, if this were to go anywhere further, there would be things still to study – including old standard themes that might otherwise be avoided – Dumont-esque parables about the problem of caste, its constructionality. Does Dalit organising escape the ingrained fragmentism of caste by organising a conscious underclass who must, as a transformative and emancipatory project, transcend and absorb oppressor culture

Of course caste fragments along collective lines, collectivities become lobby groups within negotiating structures and spokespeople become the arbitrators of identity politics – group against group. The underclass must disappear if the transformation of consciousness and social inequality is to be comprehensively achieved. Such a consciousness raising remains possible and must be practiced every moment

– work among the people always, and creatively, learn to learn from below
– dump the tired old posters in favour of more localised ones
– more creativity
– liberation is something that requires the participation of all (a poet in jail writing to those outside telling them to organise).
– dialectic oscillation between individual reflection and participation in campaign work is the model imagined here
– this possibly begins a transcendence from below
– it won’t work unless all you fight
– go among those who fight (work for new kinds of organisation, cross-sectoral alliances/meetings).
– the role of the intellectual, such as Devi is to be able to find all info everywhere
– Mao – join with the workers…
– liberation is individual and collective
– liberation must before all it cannot be just for the one grouping, the grouping must also have the ambition of dissolving (this question of difference/alliance…)
– especially where the agitating group is the lowest (common denominator)
– thus solidarity writing with the oppressed also has the political project of working to wake up the other sections of society, and must even mean providing education work for the denizens of academia in the west/ Liberation is a joint project, is bound up for all- there is no alternative – extermination or communism. You have made the mistake of being born on this planet, either leave or make war!…

Books in English by Mahasweta Devi [with some annotations, which I may expand as I read again]
Five Plays – Seagull Books 1986 trans Samik Bandyopadhyay [includes the powerful ‘Mother of 1084’, which I also saw a film version of at the London Film Festival years ago]
Bashai Tudu – Thema 1990 – trans Samik Bandyopadhyay and Gayatri Spivak
Imaginary Maps – Theme Calcutta 1993 trans Gayatri Spivak
Breast Stories – Seagull 1997 trans Gayatri Spivak [has the texts Gayatri has published in her books, and some new ones]
Dust on the Road – Seagull 1997 trans Maitreya Ghatak [Devi’s activist writings]
Rudali – Seagull 1999 trans Anjum Katyal [also made into a play and a film – as Rudaali]
The Queen of Jhansi – Seagull 2000 trans Mandira Sengupta [originally published 1956, Devi’s first book is based on historical fieldwork and is a rollicking great read in the run up to the 150th anniversary of the first war of Indian independence – see our campaign site]
Titu Mir – Seagull 2000 trans Rimi b Chaterjee
Till Death Do Us Part – Seagull 2001 trans Vikram Iyengar
Old Women – Seagull 2002 trans Gayatri Spivak
Bitter Soil – Seagull 2002 trans Ipsita Chanda
The Glory of Sri Sri Ganesh – Seagull 2003 trans Ipsita Chanda
Chotti Mundu and His Arrow – 2003 Blackwell trans Gayatri Spivak [big, great, challenging – with a prose rhythm in English that I can imagine feels like how one walks across hot scorched earth. No?]
Dewana, Khoimala and the Holy Banyan Tree – Seagull 2004 trans Pinaki Bhattacharya
Romtha – Seagull 2004 trans Pinaki Bhattacharya
Bait – Seagull 2004 trans Sumanta Banerjee [yes, the simmering Sumanta]

There is also a film about Mahasweta Devi by filmaker and blogger Shashwati Talukdar and a 1997 interview here. – which is from where the pic is nicked.

– and finally a red salute to Comrade Saiffuddin of the CPI ML(Towards New Democracy) group for the time in the early 1990s he spent talking with me about Charu Mazumdar in a way that let me write about Indian left history in Critique of Exotica. There are many comrades who’s glorious names will become crossword clues in our leisure time games after we win… (farming in the morning, philosophy in the afternoon, sportscars [for all] on the way to dinner, and weird commie wordplay fun after…)

Multicultural Encounters

Sanjay’s book is out. Yaaay – congratulations Sanjay – this is great.

Multicultural Encounters provides a unique insight into the complexities of teaching a multicultural curriculum in today’s university. Sanjay Sharma’s book is a crucial resource for all those who aspire to a theoretically informed but practically achievable anti-racist pedagogy.’ – Professor Les Back, Goldsmiths College University, UK

Multicultural Encounters develops a radical cultural and media studies by confronting the challenge of difference for rethinking everyday multiculture. It proposes both a theory and practice of a critical pedagogy of popular culture through an analysis of contemporary media and film. This book will be of great interest to students and scholars committed to a critical practice for transforming the politics of representation and otherness.

Introduction: What’s Wrong with Multiculturalism?
Borders, Agency and Otherness
Teaching Difference: Representation and Rhizomes
Reading Racial Crisis
Critical Practice: ‘Minor-Popular’ Film
Diaspora Pedagogy: Working with British-Asian film
Epilogue: the Problem with Pedagogy

£45.00 – 1403935564

Author Biographies
SANJAY SHARMA teaches at the School of Social Sciences and Law, Brunel University, UK. He has published in the areas of multiculturalism, anti-racism, diaspora youth cultures and is the co-editor of Dis-Orienting Rhythms: Politics of Asian Dance Music.
[Its hardcover so it costs bit (makes me want to suggest people go for the five finger discount if you see it in a shop like Borders – but not from any decent shops K)]

1857.org.uk – Commemorate the 150th anniversary of 1857 uprising from a peoples perspective

The 1857 uprisings were a part of the war of national liberation in South Asia
India and South Asia are still going through this struggle
·We need to link the history of our people to what is happening today

Aims and Objectives

·Commemorate the 150th anniversary of 1857 uprising from a peoples perspective

·Organise a series of events and activities around 1857 uprising

The themes that we wish to promote through these events and activities include:

·Historical significance of the 1857 uprising in South Asia and Internationally.

·The significance and implications of 1857 uprising to contemporary events and struggles in South Asia and Internationally

·The significance and affect of the 1857 uprisings to the UK and its reactions then and its reactions to current events now:

oanti colonialism

oanti terror issues.

4)What were the affects of 1857 uprisings on culture, then and now, and what can we learn from them.

5)Why celebrate the 1857 events in South Asia

·It is one of the first struggles against colonialism and imperialism and it represented a focal point for the struggles that developed subsequently against colonialism and imperialism in South Asia and internationally. In today’s context it bears similarities to the global events of today and the struggle against re-colonisation and imperialism.

4)Plans and activities for the Commemoration

a) Publication

We agreed to produce a publication. This would be a final piece that would be launched at the public event in Sept/Oct 2007. The publication will follow our set objectives and themes

b) Films on 1857

Organise films that we can take around to events that are happening around the UK. These could also be shown at the public event.

c) Exhibition

Prepare an exhibition that we can take around to events that are happening around the UK. A suggested theme was to do a comparison between 1857 and 2007.

d) Website

Launch a website which will host all materials which support our objectives and themes. It is anticipated that the website will encompass a discussion forum and allow contributions from others.

e)Cultural Aspects

The group agreed that it will also explore cultural aspects to the 1857 uprisings. These could then be encompassed within other activities.

Final Day Event marking the 1857 in October 2007 –

This would be a multi-venue and transnational event encompassing countries from South Asia, Britain and possibly other South Asian settlements in Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America and Australia. .

We would like to hear from all peoples in participating or contributing to the commemoration. Contact us to help and or join the committee. Next meeting of the Committee is organised for the 15th October 2006 at the SOAS details to be available soon.

Visit www.1857.org.uk



News from the makers of ‘Injustice’

News from the makers of ‘Injustice’ – the radical feature length documentary film about the struggles for justice by the families of people that have been killed by the police in the UK. www.injusticefilm.co.uk

1. ‘INJUSTICE’ CD – now available!
The INJUSTICE music CD was launched successfully in London and Birmingham recently (a report of the event will be up on http://www.4wardever.org/ soon!). The final line-up includes shortMAN, Princess Emmanuelle, Hillz Yungsterz , Aricka Douglas & Dub Judah , Yaz Alexander, Jimmy Chiozo, Ebele, WattsRiot feat. Scalper & Mr. Sparkes , Dee, Warhouse, The Tribunes feat. Judy Green & Poetic Justic, Lowkey and Sebastian Jamison. The CD will help raise the profile of the family campaigns for justice, after its launch there will be a touring ‘Injustice Roadshow’ with the Injustice film, family campaign speakers and live performances from the artists. The aim of the tour is to organise, raise awareness and raise funds to support the different family campaigns.

The CD includes some radical rap, hip-hop, roots, spoken word, r&b and much more! If you can help with distribution of the CD or want to host the road show then contact: info@injusticefilm.co.uk The CD is available through our website at http://www.injusticefilm.co.uk/ as well as in record shops in Birmingham, London and beyond.

2. Special screenings of ‘Injustice’Its now five and a half years since Injustice was launched and the film continues to be screened on a regular basis and continues to ahve an impact! In this month alone there are six screenings planned. Details of all public screenings are on the website www.injusticefilm.co.uk

Every year we screen the film to school children as part of National Schools Film Week.
If you know of any schools in the South London area they can see the film free as follows:
17th October 2006 Ritzy Cinema, Coldharbour Lane, LONDON, SW2
10.00am schools only screening followed by Q&A with families & film maker.

Please note this screening is for National Schools Film Week and is not open to the public.
Schools wanting bookings please call: 020 7439 4880 www.nsfw.org
A big thanks to Film Education who organise NSFW for their continuing support.

3. INJUSTICE DVD – translation help needed.We are preparing a new DVD which will include ‘Injustice’ as well as extras covering reports on the film and the family campaigns. We are looking for people that can translate the film into German, Arabic and Farsi.
Get in touch if you can help info@injusticefilm.co.uk

4. United Families & Friends Campaign Annual ProcessionThe United Families & Friends Campaign invites all to this year’s Remembrance Procession in memory of those who have died in police custody, in prison and in psychiatric care.

Saturday 28 October 2006
Rally at Trafalgar Square, Central London
€ Assemble at 1pm for a march to Downing Street.Nearest tube: Charing Cross
Further details: http://www.uffc.org/ or read the following article: www.blackbritain.co.uk/news/details.aspx?i=2296

5. United Families & Friends Campaign leaflet available
UFFC, with the support of the Churches Commission for Racial Justice, has recently launched a new leaflet about their struggles for justice. If you can help distribute these leaflets let us know and we can get the leaflets to you. info@injusticefilm.co.uk or call 07956 629 889

To read about other Migrant Media productions log onto http://www.injusticefilm.co.uk
[pic is of Jasmine Elvie, mother of Brian Douglas]

Ma T incarnates in my local offie.

Grrrrrrr. Not happy. I’ve just been to the off licence (bottle shop; liquor store) to buy two bottles of beer to smooth the dissertation marking evening that will occupy my Saturday night in the big city, and the smug South African bastard who works in my local ‘Odd Bins’ insults me when I decline to put my change into the cardboard box he has on the counter for some fair-trade charity he has started. I had politely, just said ‘no thanks’ to his request, and then he goes on about how ‘many people have already shown that they care and what was wrong with me…’. Now mostly I’ve given up on responding to this kind of moralistic baiting, and do not rise the provocation unless I’m already a few beers to the good. But having just spent the afternoon working on my Paris talk on travel and work, after having to leave the Migrant Rights rally early… well, still politely, I said I was ‘opposed to charity and think time would be better spent building a political movement that can win, rather than miniscule gestures that just make the charity giver – and in this case the charity organiser – feel good about themselves’. Or something like that. I am not sure exactly why this guy riled me up so much, since I’ve been having this argument for years. I remember recently in the New Cross Inn talking to an Action Aid guy who was also in the Labour Party (he freely admitted) and after an hour of debate got him to burn his Labour Party membership card in the ashtray (some kind of triumph, even if also pretty lame). But to be forced into this kind of reaction everywhere an anywhere – even when just buying a beer or two – on a Saturday night just seems obscene. That and the plethora of pro-war iconography I see about the place these days. Films and plays celebrating battle, brotherhood in arms, the spirit of the blitz, promotions for the latest Imperial War Museum exhibit (from where the Migrant Rights rally started today) and Jack idiot Straw with his veiled campaign to insult Muslims so as to position his middle of the road little Britain conservatism in a way sure to let him be deputy of the moribund aforementioned Labour Party (at least the Tories are so pathetic they cannot contain their internal ruptures when New Cameron came out in favour of forcing all people to get married, even – hush hush – gays). Grrrrrrr grrrr grrrr. Nasty times.

So why do I insist that charity is rubbish? I’ve long argued that it’s a way of deflecting attention from what would be politically required to achieve the very sentiments (the problem is they are just sentiments) that charity-givers might support. Redistribution of wealth; justice for all; equal share of resources and opportunity. If charity were capable of undoing global inequality, poverty, exploitation, inequality, surplus value extraction etc., then I’d be all in favour. But its not. It is the secular version of the Christian aesthetic, turn the other cheek (Bellamy) and ignore the ongoing extortion of those kept on the nether side of capitalist development. ‘Oh but my, we must do something for the poor’ and ‘at least it’s a start’. It’s a start that stops short. We’ll be all happy and fine so, long as we don’t have to see their sorry arses except in a few supplicant charity adverts promising that our few pennies would save said waif from the life of drudgery and privation that our comfy beer-swilling lifestyle means someone somewhere has to endure. I’ve no doubt there is a direct link to my wanting a beer after all this. Of course. But I do think building a political movement rather than a crypto-religious one (give, turn the cheek, embrace the higher power) is the only way that there can be any chance of wresting power from the likes of Bush, Blair, the Democrats/Republicans and their military-entertainment profit regime. Murder death kill will not be stopped, only ignored, by popping a few coins into a cardboard box on the counter of the local shop. Something more organised than that is needed. I loved the red umbrellas at the rally today. Brought to you by the activist-feminist-unionist rabble rousing chorus of red brolly weilding folk that also do serious long duree ground work stuff, such as X:Talk. Read about that in the Feminist Review – but be warned, if you just search Xtalk (without the colon) you get some kind of babbleforum on and on about Jesus, which is the very reason I was looking for beer in the first place. Crikey.

do what with your head?

Some functional self aggrandizement tasks have necessarily occupied my morning as I’ve been filling out a job application. So I also thought I should use the opportunity to update the long out of date blurb on my college webpage. Here below is my latest institutionalised reduced dessicated alienated and foreshortened “self” – forgive the gauche brutal clunk clunk prose of it all. I wish I could do it in the tone of Lily Allen – la la la la (trashed by Posh and Becks so she must be ok). The stuff you have to write when filling in faculty search criteria makes me cringe, but I wonder if anyone ever would take seriously a job application that started with the words: “I only want to join your organisation to maim it” [Comrade Boucher’s campaign pledge when running for election to the Academic body that used to oversee administrative evil at Melbourne University] or ‘We will fuck with your heads’ [the Director of Finance as spokesperson for a small workshop group assigned the task of translating Goldies’ slogan/value ‘radical thinking’ into something with more edge – I do believe he had to be prompted to speak out, but certainly got mass approval]. Anyway, in this below, I edited out most of the dodgy stuff I used to say, and some of the stuff I used to do – no mention of the courts or The Party(ing) – now it seems positively tame. Ah well. Web control will approve I hope, search machines will cathect, blogger will not flag it as objectionable content…

Summary of Research.

Three single authored monographs (1996, 2000, 2004) each extensively reviewed and cited, and marking distinct research areas: urban studies, music, cultural theory.

One co-authored book (Diaspora and Hybridity 2005) and three edited book collections (1996, 1999, Jan 2006), each making innovative openings for new research.

With regard to my longstanding research on the politics of tourism and urbanism, both the monograph The Rumour of Calcutta: Tourism, Charity and the Poverty of Representation (Zed books 1996) and the edited collection Travel Worlds: Journeys in Contemporary Cultural Politics(Zed 1999) were widely reviewed.

Since the mid 1990s I have been researching on music and politics. Producing a monograph Critique of Exotica: Music Politics and the Culture Industry (Pluto 2000), the co-authored book Diaspora and Hybridity (Sage 2005), the edited collection Dis-Orienting Rhythms: the politics of the New Asian Dance Music (Zed 1996) and special issues on “Music and Politics” in the journals Postcolonial Studies (Vol 1,3 1998) and Theory, Culture and Society (17.3 2000).

In 2004, Pluto Press agreed to publish a collection of essays called Bad Marxism: Cultural Studies and Capitalism“. This latter volume consolidates my research at the intersections of anthropology, cultural studies and philosophy which continued this year with the special festshrifft volume Celebrating Transgression: Method and Politics in Anthropological Studies of Culture(co-edited 2006) on anthropological method.

As a researcher I have always worked in collaborative projects with other scholars. In particular this has occurred around the Transl-asia group, which takes as its themes South Asian diaspora, cultural politics and contemporary transnational movements. I can refer to some twelve volumes of varied work from this group, more than a dozen conferences and workshops (six of which I have organised myself). Through this group I have been instrumental in assisting younger researchers find employment in colleges and universities in the UK. Our research program continues with an edited volume to be called “A Postcolonial People?” (2006 Hurst).

Current research involves work on film, documentary and television, the fruit of teaching on the MA Visual Anthropology and the Anthropology and Representation course (see under teaching). A substantial new monograph is 60% complete, to be called Colour TV: Black and White Life (publisher interest confirmed). A newer research program involves collaboration with Julian Henriques in an interdisciplinary (music, theory, politics, ethnography) project around the notion of Sonic Diaspora.

I am developing a new research project on Trinketization with Klaus Peter Koepping, Michael Dutton and Joel McKim. This extends early work on cultural artefacts (souvenirs, music, film) and objects in theory – Marx’s metaphors and obsessions – with coats, linen, brandy, bibles, soup recipes etc., and objects in films – such as the snowdome in Citizen Kane, and in Benjamin and Adorno’s work – the snowdome as miniature tv etc etc. This is new speculative research – explored on my blog Trinketization as well. Who knows where it will end up?

Finally I retain a longstanding academic and political links with Australian scholars and activists, such as Peter Phipps, Angie Mitropoulis, Ben Ross and Linda Leung (visiting fellow at Goldsmiths in 2005) on issues of detention and incarceration in the UK and Australia. I gained initial grant money for this from the Association of Commonwealth Universities and Professor Paul James and Peter Phipps have substantial funding from the ARC (I was a Visiting Fellow at their Globalism Institute in 2003).

Summary of Teaching.

As a supervisor I took on my first PhD students in 1999 at Goldsmiths and six of them have completed. I supervise a further 20 PhD students at present. Of which I have two completing in the next 3 to 6 months. My PhD students have been successful in attracting funding from the ESRC (6 grants) AHRC (3 grants) and the ORS (4 grants), as well as six with overseas scholarships. One student is enrolled at Goldsmiths as a combined PhD candidate in a special agreement negotiated with the University of Frankfurt in Germany (I believe the first of its kind in the UK).

For PhD students, in 2003-6 I redeveloped the Centre for Cultural Studies PhD seminar format and included a series of three subgroups where research students read, evaluate and discuss their own writing, research papers and developing projects.

In terms of curriculum design, among other courses such as Methods of Cultural Analysis, General Principles of Anthropology, for eight years I ran the largest option course in the Anthropology department: Anthropology and Representation (MA, UG Theory and practice; some 80+ ethnographic films produced, and over 130 photographic essays). I currently teach a course on Marx’s Capital and reading groups on Capital and the works of V.I.Lenin.

Summary of Administration.

In Anthropology until this year I was the convenor of the MA in Anthropology and Cultural Politics (MAACP) and had revamped this program, which had not been recruiting. I have performed various roles in Anthropology: deputy departmental tutor, personal tutor, program monitor and admissions officer, and continue to act as admissions officer for MAACP as well as research committee, postgraduate committee and I was chair of Anthropology admissions work unit.

Since 2003 I have been with the Centre for Cultural Studies and in an evolving role I have been instrumental in reviving good management of CCS. I am currently Academic Director and convenor of the PhD program. I sit on several college committees and boards [ie Graduate School Advisory], as well as the promotions committee of the college.

If for some mad reason you want more, ask to see my CV. – JH 2006/10

Trinketisation in The Statesman – Lahiri

Durga in THEMELAND – 5 october 2006

The attempt to package a spiritual experience often finds the goddess getting lost in a crowd of disparate ideas, connected at random without any attention to the religious narrative. Ranabir Lahiri writes on how mass tourism has blurred the line between the fake and the real

The trinketisation of ethnicity and folk culture is widespread in the theming of Durga Puja in Bengal. This cultural addition has been immensely popular to tourists. Nowhere in the world has the sacred space of a people been so thoroughly invaded to turn it into a huge spectacle without origin, without history. There are only multiple themes and motifs that displace the traditional image of Durga. Devi is truly lost in a crowd of disparate themes, connected at random without any attention to the central religious narrative. The theme puja has turned out to be the most subversive of popular cultural practices by foregrounding and commodifying the spectacle.




Rogue Celebrity – more glitches in the system (3 cheers)

“The Arrogant, the Misguided and the Cowards: Out of Iraq, Out with Bush”

By Sean Penn

We the people of the United States have a unique opportunity. We can show each other and the world that what the Bush administration claims is their mission is not ours. And, by leading our country as a citizenry and demanding of our government an immediate end to our own military and profit investments in Iraq, display for the entire world that democracy is a government of the people.


China Power Serpentine (Assembly reprise)

This Serpentine event looks pretty great. But there’s a double take involved at the end – the invite says ‘photography not allowed/wear waterproof clothing’ – are the developers gonna hose us down to wreck our plans to snap and blog the latest China craze? I’ve written before (The Assembly catelogue) about the ways ‘art’ marks space for regeneration projects, but this old joint built to scale after that famous Pink Floyd album cover (‘what Jimmy, you say there once was proper industrial work done there – hard to believe’) has been pretty important – especially as the set for the film version of “Richard the Third” – winter of discontent indeed, Ian McKellen’s best role…

Anyways. This looks worth a look…:

8 October – 5 November 2006

Serpentine Gallery presents China Power Station: Part 1 at Battersea Power Station

Co-produced by The Red Mansion Foundation

Thursday – Sunday, 12 – 7pm. Admission £5

A major exhibition of Chinese contemporary art, architecture and sound
Site and exhibition tours, tea room, shopping, events

For five weeks this autumn, the Serpentine Gallery will take up residence in Battersea Power Station with a presentation of Chinese culture.

China Power Station: Part I is a unique opportunity to visit the iconic Battersea Power Station before it is redeveloped. It will also be the first chance to see the work of an extraordinary and vibrant new generation of Chinese artists and architects installed at this remarkable site.

Battersea Power Station echoes post-industrial art venues in China and the works on show have been chosen to activate the enormous scale of its spaces. The exhibition will be filled with sound and moving images, arguably the most prolific and strongest type of work being created in China today. There are three floors to visit and the art will engage with each of these distinct areas. … This is the Serpentine Gallery’s first large scale, off-site exhibition project. It will embrace and celebrate the power of the building as well as the buoyant developments in Chinese contemporary culture. ./snip…

We recommend wearing waterproof clothing

Photography is not permitted



NIMB – Shimokitazawa

Not in my backyard used to be the somewhat mocking slogan attributed to (but rarely adopted by) suburbanites and urban yuppies who were opposed to developments like, I dunno, the inner Sydney airport runway; the relocation of some prison/asylum/shopping centre; the technopolisation of some research and development Project. NIMBY protests then seemed to fade off my radar a little, except in England where asylum centres raised the same sort of vigilante hackles as did paedophiles or such like. Clearly the spectrum of anti-development and urban cleansing projects is wide and diverse, but the opposition limited and often cack-handed. [sorry, not a technical term, but you will know what I mean]. I do have a certain nostalgia for some of the more creative adventures that belonged to Left-wing versions of such NIMBy sentiments – protests by anarchists against urban yuppie fortress home renovations (anti-new architecture by any other name – it as funny to see things trashed with style) and the Reclaim the Streets actions when they transformed the city into a wild disruptive – no-sign-of-them-going-home-soon party zone (this was before 24 hour inner-city O’Neil’s style yob club/pubs took over the high streets, and before RTS became just a friday bike ride…). Something has faded for mine, since back then – oh nostalgia for the g.o. days – Reclaim the Streets used to be especially critical when they linked up with the Liverpool Dockers. I remember particularly how hard the Police thugs cracked down on that pointedly political alliance when it began.

So, I am keen to follow the campaign that’s emerged in Tokyo to save the playground of the trendiest of youth culture club scene creative types. Shimokitizawa is a place where I had the good fortune to be often invited several years back when I was Visiting Prof at Nagoya City Uni, and more recently last April I gave a big talk in a crowded club that had bizarrely stopped to discuss hip hop, politics and the war on terror. Strangely fluid simultaneous translation in Japanese by my good friends Toshiya Ueno and Yoshitaka Mouri, and a dynamic debate that was electric, critical, engaging and went on long past the alloted time – then a TRON type race across the city in Toshiya’s manga-style sports car. So I’d found it more than ironic that, at the talk, people in the audience brought up the plan to ‘redevelop’ the very area we were in by running a huge motorway through the centre of the suburb. I’d heard such things before – thought it was another tribal-youth type NIMBy concern, but was surprised to hear of a raft of RTS type actions in planning; plenty of energy amongst the activist set… (though there are other parts of Tokyo I also enjoyed – peculiar little bars left over somehow from the 40s, 50s, 60s – they are not in the way of a highway [yet]).

Today the campaign has hit the front page of the New York Times. Check it out. In the absence of much else newsworthy, I am pleased to see this make a splash, and hope it translates to renewed RTS-enthusiasm that can aslo plumb the activism of the old Tokyo airport campaign and the like. Something to learn, I still think there is much good to be said for what happened in the Anti-roads and Reclaim the Streets UK protests in the mid 1990s, even if they were reclaimed for capital in the end – for that I blame in part the opportunist prat George Moonbot, speaking this week at the Conservative Party conference where he and his Guardian reading friends belong. For insight into those times, check early issues of Aufheben on the Criminal Justice Act and Anti-Roads.