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Contents: Muslim Life in West Bengal (Issue 37)

Contents: Muslim Life in West Bengal (Issue 37)

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Contributors

Contributors

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Guest-Editorial: Writing Back to Bhadrolok Hegemony in West Bengal

By Mosarrap H. Khan & Mursed Alam
More importantly, we are witnessing the emergence of a nascent body of scholars and public intellectuals in the community, who are eager to critique bhadrolok hegemony and the absolute dominance of clerics within the community. This issue has been able to bring together some of these writers, scholars, and intellectuals, who would be, we hope, shaping the discourse of the community in the coming years. After Gramsci, we could term them ‘organic intellectuals’, who have risen from the ranks of the community itself. And interestingly, many of them are from the hinterlands of Bengal, without any significant cultural capital.

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The Construction of Bengali Muslim Identity in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century

By Mosarrap H. Khan
The Muslim-Bengali identity was constructed as a result of the antagonistic relation between the ashraf and the atrap Muslims in the beginning of 19th century; as a contest between the rural traditionalist mullahs and jihadi reformist preachers (Wahabis and Faraizis) throughout the 19th century; and also on the basis of a new alignment in interest among the urban educated and rural educated, semi-educated, illiterate Muslims on the basis of a religious solidarity.

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The World through the Wars: The Bengali Muslim and the Great War

By Sipra Mukherjee
The outbreak of the First World War placed under strain the conscience of Indian Muslims, a fact that was revealed by the Khilafat movement which found enthusiastic support immediately after the War. The debates over the issues of loyalty and duty frequently turned to the intricate and thorny issue of Muslim identity in a colonized country. A clearly articulated pro-Khalif stance and the beginnings of an anti-British stance soon began to be seen in the papers.

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The Bengali Muslim Writes Back: Hindu Cultural Hegemony and Muslim Self-fashioning

By Mursed Alam
In his excellent introduction to Tahader Kotha (Their Story), Milan Dutta criticizes the fact that Bengali Muslims are totally absent from Bengali literature – canonical or otherwise. He seems to suggest that the onus is left on the Bengali Muslims to write their stories. However, instead of regretting it, the Bengali Muslims should take upon themselves the task of writing their own story, thereby inscribing their own self in the official cultural narrative of Bengal.

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Can the Muslim Fight Back? Reflections from Fieldwork in West Bengal

By Abdul Qaiyum
The lack of riots or religion based violence does not take us away from the fact that there emerged, in the 34 year old rule of the CPIM, an institutionalized system of inequality. The land redistribution which was supposed to usher in a more equal society only managed to make a small dent in the existing system. Rather, what followed was a social structure, which inherited the inequalities of the past with a different veneer to it.

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The Bengali Muslims and their political marginalization in contemporary West Bengal

By Abdul Matin
The representation of Muslims, Dalits and Tribals in Rajya Sabha demonstrate a different political imagination and further tells us how these institutions are highly dominated by the upper caste Bengali Hindu bhadroloks irrespective of political ideologies. In her detailed study of the profiles of West Bengal MLAs from 1952 to 2001, Stephanie Tawa Lama-Rewal brought out the composition of the caste and community of the MLAs. After analyzing thirteen West Bengal Legislative Assemblies (1952-2001), she showed that the upper caste bhadrolok (particularly Brahmins and Kayasthas), over the years, have dominaned in West Bengal assemblies cutting across all political parties.

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New found Muslim Assertiveness in Bengal and the Rise of Hindutva

By M Reyaz
The BJP has thus succeeded in changing political debates in the state that famously gave refuge to a victim of the 2002 Gujarat riots who had become the face of the anti-Muslim pogrom. Incidents like recent Basirhat riots, Dhulagarh riots, Canning riots (2013), or the violence at Kaliachak in Malda are used by the Sangh Parivar in their propaganda.

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A Study of Ahle-Hadith Girls’ Madrassas in Rural West Bengal

By Seema Ahmed
Muslim girls from rural Malda are mostly first and second generation learners. Education of their parents has a direct correlation with their own educational achievements. While the community is still trapped in orthodoxy with modernity making fleeting presence, the girls from the community show higher aspirations for education and jobs. Most of the girl students are also aware of the importance of economic independence.

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Representation of Muslims in Bengali Cinema and Television

By Nadira Khatun
If we look at the representation of Muslims in recent times, Muslim identity has been reduced to the stereotypes of religious fanatics, murderers, savages, underworld dons, and prostitutes. Much like Hindi cinema, Muslim women are ascribed exotic attributes. Apart from walking on the tested formula of Hindi cinema of representing Muslims as courtesans, underworld dons, etc., Muslims are also represented as the lead protagonist’s best friends.

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A Conversation with Docu-maker, Soumitra Dastidar

By Cafe Dissensus
For the last three decades, a churning has started in the Muslim community in the field of education. Al-Ameen Mission had taken the initiative. The mission to educate the community has turned into a sort of movement. Many poor families are coming forward breaking the shackles of poverty. There are numerous doctors, engineers now. Also Muslim boys’ and girls’ representations have increased but as far as the government job is concerned, still Muslim representation is minimal. But education has opened their eyes.

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“Ora aar Amra”: A Perception of Muslim Culture in the Bengali Middle Class ‘Bhadralok’ Household

By Arpita Saha
Akram Kaku, my uncle’s childhood friend, was my other experience of a different culture. Akram Ali, to us, Akram Kaku frequented our house and I have fond memories of him breaking bread with us. He often treated us with gajarer halwa and shemoier payesh during Eid. My grandmother, an otherwise pious Hindu lady who at times even refused to let onions and garlic cross her kitchen threshold, treated him as one of her own.

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Contents: Women’s Writing from North East India (Issue 36)

Contents: Women’s Writing from North East India (Issue 36)

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Contributors

Contributors

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Guest-Editorial: Women’s Writing from North East India

By Namrata Pathak
The women writers from the North-East have invariably dealt with the issues of oppression, subjugation, invisibility, silences, and gaps in the periphery. However, their writings also question a legacy of what are being “discarded,” “de-valued,” and “discredited” in the context of the North-East.

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Nabina Das’ Three Poems

By Nabina Das
If Saaqi were now to pick up the ruddy cup
she'd only wail today sans ecstasy: O mere rabb!
Where are all the flowers gone in this poison clime,
what pellets do you hurl at us, what hex do you rub?

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Nabanita Kanungo’s Three Poems

By Nabanita Kanungo
the last orgasm fell as a quiet bomb on his dream,
and you picked up splinters of that city, sleeping alone…
with hot flushes fanning out into your forties like pests
staining sheets with a blotchy, red date...

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Easterine Kire’s Six Poems

By Easterine Kire
Last night the shadows chased me
And the wintermoon screamed in my ears
Ah Calcutta, I could not sleep.
I watched
Your silent city weave
A tapestry of poems, songs, dead roses
And a pair of deep brown eyes.

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The Lexicographer in Lower Assam

By Sumana Roy
‘Is a dictionary a natural thing?’ I ask.
Exhaustion’s given my voice a late accent.
He stands up. Anger’s a new immigrant in his voice.
‘A dictionary is the most hospitable place in the world.
Where else would the foreign find such accommodation?’

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Bhobai tells a story

By Nitoo Das
I walked home. Inside me, I felt the need to draw more crows. I knew I could not do it in my mother’s presence and went off to the forest whenever I heard the crowbite in my fingers. It was a longing I could not control. In fact, I did not want to. Approximately a year later, I saw the first changes in me and soon, Bhobai, the man turned into Bhobai, the crow. I embraced the change with blue-black wings.

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Road to Freedom

By Leisangthem Gitarani Devi
Everyone in the leikai knows with whose money she’s buying fish. Earlier she had no money to buy even dried fish, let alone fresh ones. Since her husband died leaving her with her second child still in her womb, she’s tried all means of enterprises. In Manipur, all enterprises are like fair-weathered friends; as long as there is no bandh, things run smooth.

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Extracts from Mamoni Roisom Goswami

By Dibyajyoti Sarma
Phuleshwari walked toward the point where the three roads converged and sat under the old sacred fig tree next to the road. Ah! Blowing dust, they just passed by her. She wondered if she should follow the vehicles. Yes, where did they go? Those military vehicles?

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