Yasmin Saikia's work on oral histories of 1971 times

Prof Yasmin Saikia hails from Assam and is chair of Peace Studies at the University of Arizona USA. I found her to have a strong grip on the possibilities of sense-making and justice-making that we might achieve around the events of 1971. Naration and recruitment of intepretations and reconstructions of these events continue to lobotomise our polity.  A video from her recent talk to Brick Lane Circle will be posted up soon. Congratulations to the group for making the space to hear about these matters, beyond the poisoned, shrill and hopeless treatment meted out by the Liberation Industry.

She's interviewed hundreds of people, victims and participants and was quite disturbed at what is going on in the name of national justice-making. That she studied at undergraduate and masters level in Alighar Muslim University adds a greater expectation of her epistemystique, to which she delivers in sack loads.

Exploring ideas of insaniyyat (humanity), huquq al insan (rights of humankind), tauba (forgiveness) and restorative justice from the South Asian Islamic universe adds depth and spirit to any analysis of the wrongs wrought on the people, by Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Indians at the time. She mused on the concept of neighbours and strangers in Quran, and how these transform under nationalism. She sees 1971 as an ongoing narrative and quite rightly resists the national narratives around it. 

The state of publicly countenances debate on the crown jewels of 1971 is abysmal. On the Internet check Genocide Bangadesh, ICSF and Mukto Mona. In real(er) life check out the Ghatak Nirmul Commission, the Sector Commanders Associations and the Awami League in general. It is disgraceful epistemicidal projection that must be superseded, but will be difficult to.

A few years ago Shah Abdul Hannan, a prominent Islamic social figure in Bangladesh was subject to tremendous abuse from the Liberation Industry for talking publicly about 1971 as a civil war.  there is a not of ignorance manufactured by people  who believe themselves to be acting pro-Liberation. Prof Mushtaq Khan says there are elements of civil, liberation and independence in the war as a device to build a future narrative that integrates the three running already. 

Saikia penetrates a few dimensions deeper into the lived experience:

  1. A Civil War of East versus West Pakistan
  2. A, International War of India vs Pakistan
  3. An Ethnic War Bengali vs Bihari, and
  4. A Gender War Man against Woman
I have her 2011 book on 1971 on order and recommend her work generally, she's already established, so this cannot be accused of being an attention seeking ploy by angry Liberation Industrialists. Now that our collective stupidity and cruelty is on national display through the International War Crimes Tribunals, people at home, diaspora and abroad might be interested in understanding things with some humanity.

This is one of the few means.

Here's a video of one of her talks on remembering to be human.

If you want to get to the meat, a 2004 paper can be found on line: 'Beyond the Archives of Silence: Narratives of Silence of the 1971 Liberation War in Bangladesh.'  I challenge you to read it and not choke and be moved.http://fugstar.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/new-word-epistemystique.html#!/2012/02/new-word-epistemystique.html


Fetih 1453

It warms the me to the core to discover films like Fetih 1453, an Ummahtic swashbuckler that brings to life the Opening of Istanbul by the 21 year old Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II. Here he is sniffing a flower (see right).

Fetih is the most costly Turkish film to date. It does the same kind of thing as Malaysia's recent Puteri Gunung Ledang, National Visual Archive Making, with  Ottoman grit and substance. The Turkish Film Festival in London always hosts fantastic work, so this isn't a plutocratic shot in the dark. I could see from the end credits just how many small companies supported this work. I hope they like the finished product.

This victorious siege was important because if it had failed, it would have been curtains for the Sultan, his army and his people. Many Muslim armies had unsuccessfully tried to capture Constantinople, inspired by a saying of the Prophet, a hadith which is references from the very  beginning. Framed with Prophesy, that's what this film is.

For Mehmet II be able to succeed was an immense honour for all involved, and of profound importance for Islamic futures that it enabled.  Beamingly pro-Islam, it includes an unforgettable scene of the Sultan leading Fajr (dawn) prayers on the battlefield, and several sky splitting Takbeeric waves. I recommend it to folks to support this film, acquire it and view it multi-generationally.

Historical-technological features abound, those with an interest are treated to the manufacturing of Urban's famous canon, The use of ostrich eggs in building material, and the drawing of the Byzantine chain across the Bosphorous. Special mention must go to the wardrobe team, I hope and pray that Musalmenn the ummah over take heed of the threads on display here and incorporate there into their wedding wardrobes. Beats Green Street Indian tat any day. Girls will like Urban's adopted daughter.

Great casting too: of the Sultan who was played by a graceful man, and of his loyal friend Hassan, not to forget the obligatory sparkly-eyed Shayk who shifts the mood at the darkest hour, with spiritual-material truths at the grave of Eyub el Ansari, the Prophet's companion buried outside the walls of the city at the time of the first attempt to take it. I remember praying Jumma at Eyup. Try to.

There were times during the 160 minutes when I felt I was watching Xena Warrior Princess, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, or Maid Marian and her Merry Men. There's even a a bit of Su-Fi and a Golum at Mount Doom moment. 

I did have a few issues with this marvelous piece of Cultural Jihad.  It could have done a little more booby coverage folks,  the colouring seemed oversaturated / supernatural at times, and the English subtitles of Turkish dialogue took a little getting used to.

Faruk Aksoy and team, thank you, senu seviorum.


Reviewing Meherjaan

I had the chance to watch Meherjaan today, a Bangladeshi-directed film set within a rural 1971 warscape that does a few things well, despite causing a few cringes (whenever the modern day was portrayed) and descending to Bollywood on occasion.

It was screened in London as part of the Tongues of Fire 'Asian' film festival that runs until the end of the week. The film was bouncing around Bangladesh last year, somewhat controversially as there was a little hullabaloo about the tastefulness of the Bengali Muslim girl falling in love with a Pakistani soldier, which runs against the rape-power differential.

I hear that it was cut several times by Bangladeshi censors, and would be interested to know where exactly. I am not one of those for whom controversy necessarily translates to interest and worth, 1971 interventions, whether documentary or fictive tend to leverage too much controversy-as-publicity, so much so that its becoming a tired cliche. Too much policing of singular national narratives from all concerned.

These folks from Chittagong (below) wanted it banned last year, it hurts them and this ecology of hurt should be explored further.

Theres a lot going on, needless to say a lot of thought, research and content that's usually silenced in war stories. My framing of this is not as a pukey love story, but as a depiction an extended family seek refuge in the house of the grandfather Khwaja Saheb'who the Pakistanis, it is hoped, would never dare to defy. You could watch this as a family as certain cuts will appeal to the Bollywoodised, the habitual melodramatic soap watcher, the artist, the airhead, the joker and the wannabe mystic. Elder murrabis who aren't particularly enamored by #Mukticrap might enjoy it if you can distract them during the more purile love sequences.

Significantly, and in a welcome nonsecular turn, Quranic ethics get frontlined on several occasions. Khwaja Saheb's socio-ecological akhlaq is shown as sculpted by that repeated refrain in Surah Rahman "Which of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?"

Contrast this with Meher's unsuccessful suitor, a plump mollycoddled middleclass Dhaka boy who doubles up as a part time Mukti fighter and roams around the village with a very different comportment.

I found some of the gender relations unbelievable, we don't do open touchy things between unmarried people, was this just Bollywoodification or am I missing something?

Coming from a family with very heterogeneous experiences of 1971-times, I appreciate the durable and variegated moving image the film tries to portray, even as I dislike the stupid annoying women that generally feature. It is an image that seldom finds a cultural platform in Bangladesh. Like a rape victim tooling up and going to war, not waiting to be commodified.

Meherjaan established layers of meaning where a film like Matir Moyna (The Clay Bird) by late Tareque Masud) did not and would not tread. I suggest that this has to do with the class composition and epistemystique (politics of learning) of the film-makers and characters. We were shown bloodymindedness, fleeting glimpses of pre-Bangla Movement politics (God Forbid!), Lalon Shah,  Faiz Ahmed Faiz (that song about the intimate familiarity) and a sympathetic characterisation of an ageing Aligharian land owner. The Clay Bird was more coherent and magnificently made, but simplistic.

Emanating from director Rubayiyat Hossain's Master's research and humanrightsism, its an early film from a young female film maker. It did a good job of humanising the elements of the experience that misguided nationalisms have reduced to '200 000 of our women were raped by Pakistanis, now lets hang the Razakars'.

This line of dialogue did significant work for me.

"Some of you speak of Communism, others Socialism and Secularism, don't you realise that these are all ideas you have borrowed from the west? Have any of you actually asked the people (here) what they want?"
Hossain leaves the audience with a cliffhanger that fascinates me but must annoy the hell out of Liberation Capitalists. Whodunnit? The Mukti, or the Pak army?

Dear Land of my forefathers and cousins, more like this please, so much to explore and make sense of.
But please next time teach the Hindu actors how to pray properly and try to get less lame actresses to man the Dhaka flashing back device.

This Sunday the Brick Lane Circle host Yasmin Saikia at the Davenent Centre, she will be reflecting on her field research amongst the multiculture of rape victims, rapists and witnesses.

I would recommend going to see Abu, Son of Adam also, a Malayalam language film demonstrating a fine Islamic principle, one that should condition our selves to be developmentia-proof.


[New genre of literature] Su-Fi

Explorations and envisionments of the future of human spirit.

Last night I attended a lecture by Laurent Mignon (Oxford Uni) at the Yunus Emre Centre in London on Ottoman Sci-fi.

He covered its history and historiography, as well as featuring a few utopic and dystopic examples. Towards the Tanzimat and late Ottoman periods such literature of the future gave writers and scholars access to a space to explore the technological and political reconfiguration of the world. Current sci-fi aficionados in Modern Turkey are cut off from pre Romanisation-of-alphabet literature of the genre they cultivate today.

Following humiliating defeat of the Balkans war in 1912-3 writers went into reflective mode, and sci fi used in a very Surah Kahfian way, with folks falling asleep and waking up later to worlds where political preoccupations had been resolved (Islamic World Bank, National Industrialisation et al.).

There's even a Maulana, Davudzadeh Mustafa Nazim, penning a novel where there comes into being an anti-western (speakers characterisation/translation not mine) anti-western union of Asian and African states, where 3d animated photos and snooping tech are pervasive.

One volume which I would dearly love to read is Jelan Nuri's 'History of the Future', where the land and seas are teeming with factories and smoke billows everywhere, and humans robotised until they are barely distinguishable from machines, and crucially nature lost, along with spirituality.

It is this spiritual territorialisation that I suppose Begum Rokeyya's Ladyland, Iqbal's Javid Nama, Khurram Ali Shafique's Republic of Rumi speak to.

Su-Fi already exists in the guise of teaching stories and self-serving hagiographies of pirs. Maybe the infamous RAND report is a work of Su-fi? Perhaps its all about Surah Kahf?

Su-Fi asserts a world in which the soul, its work and refinement are at centre stage, through politics, technological, conceptual or other transformations.

In these days of hOpening, embodiment and ensoulment, cultivating a few channels in this direction seems like a good idea from where I'm sitting.


New Word - Bumwave

Not a very good idea at all

New Word - Jannahcide

When we, en mass, act disgracefully, we draw away from His pleasure and the garden.

The term accesses  structural flaws in the jamarchitexture for uloomination.