TQ Chāt | # 7

Geeta Patel explores gender and strangeness in Miraji’s Urdu poetry.

Kristine Gift looks at torture from Algeria to Abu Ghraib, and Andrea Smith considers the pitfalls of rituals of confessional privilege.

Gautam Pemmaraju offers a beautiful essay on aural experiences and ideas of otherworldliness.

Aziz Sohail goes beyond the stereotypes to explore art and artistic expression in Balochistan, and Tanqeed editor, Ahsan Kamal, writes a stirring repudiation of Islamabad’s allegations of criminality and illegality against the city’s Katchi Abadis.

Manan Ahmed continues his exploration of the how periphery appears through the eye of the drone, and Partha Chatterjee talks about nationalism, internationalism and cosmopolitanism in Indian anti-colonial movements.

Sankaran Krishna defends dalit objection to Arundhati Roy’s introduction to Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste, and Weiss Hamid brings us an oral history of famous Afghan singer, Ahmed Zahir.

And, end your bi-weekly read with some high-brow hilarity!

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TQ Chāt | # 6

Hamzah Saif is back with yet another healthy dose of recommended readings from Tanqeed:

Micheal McQuarrie alerts us to what happens when political participation is funded by Wal-Mart, the pharmaceutical industry and the World Bank. “We are interested in participatory contexts and trajectories. We ask: who is interested in participation? Who funds it? What do they get out of it?”

And for those with access to YouTube (and those in Pakistan with proxies), Ananya Roy takes on microfinance for its transformation of “third world women” into an asset class for first world investment.

Read Tanqeed’s Editor-in-Chief Madiha Tahir’s excellent piece on technophilia and the fetishization of law in the drone debate!

Rubina Saigol brilliantly summarizes the cession of progressive and liberal political spaces in Pakistan. “[L]iberalism is the political face of conservative politics. Liberal states conceal and mask the inequalities and hierarchies of a class society which is why those at the bottom of the hierarchy fail to support liberalism… [L]iberals have failed to challenge neo-liberal policies that play havoc with the lives of workers, women and peasants. The singular focus on challenging dominant national narratives, led to the failure to question the dominant global ideologies that seek to re-colonise the globe economically.”

Costas Douzinas takes a look at the theoretical contradictions at the heart of human rights discourse, and argues that “in their paradoxical linkage of symbolic openness and ethical determinacy, human rights can become the post modern formulation of the principle of justice.” In another wonderful piece, he examines the concomitant identity formation prompted by human rights discourse, and the inadequacy of a regime of law “to meet the demands for the full recognition of the postmodern self with its polymorphous desires and complex desires for recognition as a unique individual.”

And after a decade of post September 11th torture, and repeated assertions of it being incompatible with liberal values, Ali Riza Taşkale places torture firmly in the technology of the liberal state. “Liberalism con­sists of various in­ter­re­lated so­cial re­gimes, which, al­though said to be com­mitted to ‘peace-​making’, is nev­er­the­less also com­mitted to vi­ol­ence, per­manent state of emer­gency, and con­stant pre­pared­ness for per­petual war. Seen in this light, war, vi­ol­ence and so­ciety are mu­tu­ally con­stitutive and the lib­eral way of war is ‘a war-​making ma­chine whose con­tinuous pro­cesses of war pre­par­a­tion prior to the con­duct of any hos­til­ities pro­foundly, and per­vas­ively, shape the lib­eral way of life’. The main ob­ject of the lib­eral way of war is life it­self be­cause it is what threatens life it­self. Thus ‘everything is per­mitted’ to the lib­eral way of war.”

Rustin Zarkar’s wonderful article takes a look public murals and beatification in Mashad to highlight the complexities of the Iranian government ignored in Western coverage. “Municipal politics around beautification programs reveal the complexity of governance in Iran and shatter illusions about the monolithic nature of the Iranian state. By exploring how local actors express often-contradictory opinions about the nature and future of Iranian cities, a fuller picture of modern life and politics in Iran emerges — one that highlights the diffuse nature of power and local decision-making in the Islamic Republic.”

- ن۔م۔راشدؔ کی مشہور نظم ”کون سی الجھن کو سلجھاتے ہیں ہم؟” نعمان شوق کی آواز ميں سنئيے

- اور اوون بینیٹ جونز کشمیر ميں بھارتی خفیہ ایجنسیوں کے درميان زندگی کی ايک جہلک پيش کرتے ہيں

Golden Dawn: Greece and the Cold War by Evelyn P.

"People on the left tend to know little about 20th century Greece and the injection of a “Western European” imaginary into the Greek national body. From their transition from an occupied ethno-religious minority of the Ottoman Empire to a protectorate of European powers, Greeks faced one of the first immobilizing dilemmas of confronting a “choice” between West versus East, “modern” versus “backward”, when the West demanded the resuscitation of the spirit of their glorious ancestors that necessitated purging their culture of its oriental paraphernalia. The biopolitical regimes and strategies of power adopted after the Civil War of 1946-49 by the state (picking up where the Metaxas regime left off) sought to organize the national narrative into precisely this type of revanchist vista where the purity of Greek civilization and an invented (or imagined) organic and linear heritage had to be preserved and pursued under European and U.S. aegis. In some political discourses this imagery of a resuscitated Greekness translated into long-winded aspirations and justifications for the “emancipation” of Istanbul (a tug-of-war in Greek politics that persisted throughout the 20th century and terminated with an attempt by the Greek junta government to annex Cyprus, which was counteracted by the Turkish government’s occupation of northern Cyprus); in other discourses the need for the protection of Greek civilization from the constant threat of the communist “pest” and its attack on Greek Orthodox values. The history of pre-80s modern Greece is one of ethnic strife and genocide, displacement of Greek communities in Anatolia, the Caucasus, North Africa, Central Asia; the political instability of a post-colonial state marked by periodic coups (both before and after the emphýlios), as well as the ongoing struggle for the better part of the century between the British-imposed royalty, their comprador collaborators, and the Liberals, which played out in the arena of an erratic proxy republic."

Read more here.

Golden Dawn: Greece and the Cold War by Evelyn P.

"People on the left tend to know little about 20th century Greece and the injection of a “Western European” imaginary into the Greek national body. From their transition from an occupied ethno-religious minority of the Ottoman Empire to a protectorate of European powers, Greeks faced one of the first immobilizing dilemmas of confronting a “choice” between West versus East, “modern” versus “backward”, when the West demanded the resuscitation of the spirit of their glorious ancestors that necessitated purging their culture of its oriental paraphernalia. The biopolitical regimes and strategies of power adopted after the Civil War of 1946-49 by the state (picking up where the Metaxas regime left off) sought to organize the national narrative into precisely this type of revanchist vista where the purity of Greek civilization and an invented (or imagined) organic and linear heritage had to be preserved and pursued under European and U.S. aegis. In some political discourses this imagery of a resuscitated Greekness translated into long-winded aspirations and justifications for the “emancipation” of Istanbul (a tug-of-war in Greek politics that persisted throughout the 20th century and terminated with an attempt by the Greek junta government to annex Cyprus, which was counteracted by the Turkish government’s occupation of northern Cyprus); in other discourses the need for the protection of Greek civilization from the constant threat of the communist “pest” and its attack on Greek Orthodox values. The history of pre-80s modern Greece is one of ethnic strife and genocide, displacement of Greek communities in Anatolia, the Caucasus, North Africa, Central Asia; the political instability of a post-colonial state marked by periodic coups (both before and after the emphýlios), as well as the ongoing struggle for the better part of the century between the British-imposed royalty, their comprador collaborators, and the Liberals, which played out in the arena of an erratic proxy republic."

Read more here.

The Corpse Washer is, in essence, a tale about the destruction of a society. It is a chronicle of the visceral, material obliteration of every aspect of the being of that society, from its infrastructure to its cultural institutions, from the relationships that form the basis of its communal life to its sense of itself as a body politic. It is simultaneously the story of a man, Jawad, born into a family of corpse washers and eventually compelled by circumstance to reluctantly take up that profession, whose life is bled dry of all possibilities as a result of Iraq’s history. The book is a savage indictment of the relatively immediate as well as deep-rooted causes of the carnage that have reduced both Iraq and Iraqis to corpses: the tragic and foolish US-led invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq, the relentless sectarian violence unleashed in the wake of the occupation, and the travails of life under Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical rule.

Rohit Chopra reviews Sinan Antoon’s heartbreaking novel, The Corpose Washer, for Tanqeed

Urdu review here.

The city itself is familiar to those of us who inhabit it. There are only so many places in the world that a Pakistani returns to when they think of the gagging fumes of diesel, the pulsating rhythm of fear and joy and frustration, the sudden calm of the open sea. Tanweer takes us hurtling headlong through the streets of Karachi–on a bus packed with beautiful and grotesque characters: Marxists, thieves and poets; a boy and his beloved on their first date in a tiny car jacked up to hit its top speed of 77 kilometers per hour; birdmen and magicians through the winding avenues of Bohri Bazaar. Staying true to life and death in the city the novel also features a bomb, but those who read this novel for a comment on terrorism and violence in Karachi will find themselves taken on several different tangents. Its variously enraged, elated, inebriated, infatuated and melancholic protagonists lead the reader through memories that open up more questions than they answer.

It is popular among liberal Pakistanis to nostalgically invoke the more socially liberal Pakistan of the 1950s and 1960s as a country that was on the path to peaceful prosperity. They fondly recall a time before Pakistan was “The World’s Most Dangerous Nation,” when it was safe for memsahibs to wear bikinis – a time before conservative moral policing took kulchur hostage. Photographs of the era circulate widely among the country’s liberal social media community and in like-minded columns of many print publications. And, certainly, in as far as these images advocate for a more tolerant society, their circulation is welcome. However, the sentiment behind sharing them is sadly afflicted by the pervasive tendency of reducing contemporary Pakistan’s problems to religion, in particular, the idea that religiosity–Islamic religiosity–is at the root of our ills. Privileging this particular narrative of Islamization, such nostalgia invariably suffers from historical amnesia.

Tanqeed Chāt

Second list of recommeded readings from your humble editors and social media managers at Tanqeed.

1. Remember veteran unionist and left activist Naseer Humayoun. Reflect on why Khalujaan uses words like shamsheer but cannot pronounce ishq, and on why kids from Dadu to Nowshera are rapping.

2. Let Vijay Prashad give you the 101 on ASA’s endorsement of BDS. Tag along with Manan Ahmed on a lyrical visit to the idols in the Bhawalpur archives, and join Jacob Steiner in his chat with Ali Nobil Ahmad about Ali’s new book on sexuality and Pakistani migration to Europe.

3. Learn to speak postmodern, and get reminded to check your performative cruelty.

4. Remember that culture is not always organically constructed, and that its production is political.

5. And, for dessert:
ريشماں کے ہاتھ کا ميٹھا کھائيے٬ اور پھر جرنل صاحب کی خاطر ميں تازہ پکوان ملاحضہ کيجيے

Brain Food at Tanqeed

This year, we at Tanqeed intend on bringing recommendations of lectures, essays, articles, videos on a range of subjects including politics, culture and society from Pakistan and beyond. This will be done on a bi-weekly basis. The material uploaded to our Tumblr will be accessible for everyone, including PDFs and recordings. You should follow us on Twitter for shorter and more frequent updates. Subscribe to us for free and don’t forget to message us if you have any questions or comments.

Time for our first list of the year!

1. Asif Magsi’s interview with Mohammad Hanif on the Pakistani media and Baloch long march on Naked Punch

2. No Justice In Bagram by Omran Belhadi

3. Lecture by Sven Lindqvist: Bombing Savages in Law, in Fact, in Fiction (Audio and video)

4. On capitalism and depression by Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi (PDF)

5. Violence, Teenagers, and Gonzo Porn by Clara Bennathan

6. Unveiling Scheherazade: Feminist Orientalism in the International Alliance of Women, 1911-1950 (PDF)

7. Dirty Dancing and Spaces of Exception in Pakistan

8. The Guantanamo Memoirs

9. Building from Marx: Reflections on Class and Race by Himani Bannerji (PDF)

10. Pasolini’s Salò: Torture is Political by Ali Riza Taşkale