Jaya Daronde, Relationship, oil on canvas. From Caste Life Narratives, Visual Representation, and Protected Ignorance in this issue. Copyright and reproduced courtesy of the artist.
Life narratives ranging from autobiographies and biographies to blogs and pictorial art have historically played a vital role in both the affirmation as well as interrogation of caste identities. However, serious study of life narratives in relationship to caste is still relatively underdeveloped. The scholarship on caste (or the varna-jati complex) is vast, as is the study of life narratives as a genre—it is the conjunction of the two that especially merits sustained scrutiny. The study of caste is animated by a Critical Caste Studies that takes its bearing from Dalit Studies, a lively area of scholarly endeavor in recent years, in order to explore diverse phenomena within the varna-jati complex. The scrutiny of life narratives in conjunction with caste promises to expand the scope of inquiry into life narratives by bringing new cultural contexts into the discussion and by enabling the formulation of new theoretical questions of genre. Such an investigation contributes to the study of caste by directing attention to fresh archives and by making available for analysis in powerful ways questions of identity. The critical work of studying caste in conjunction with life narratives is most pertinent with regard to India but includes the South Asian diaspora as well as other countries such as Japan.
Asymptote Journal features a compelling review of Story is a Vagabond: Fiction, Essays and Drama by Intizar Husain, published by MĀNOA: A Pacific Journal of International Writing (27:1, 2015) and UH Press.
One of Pakistan’s most distinguished writers, Intizar Husain was born in India in 1923 and immigrated to Pakistan during the Partition. An internationally acclaimed writer, critic, and translator, he has published seven volumes of short stories, four novels, and a novella, as well as travelogues, memoirs, and critical essays. Despite his importance to world literature for over six decades, Husain’s writing is little known in English translation. Story is a Vagabond is the first collection in English to show the breadth of his thoughtful, innovative, and compassionate work.
Reviewer Aamer Hussein writes that the editors of this special issue managed “a level of translucence through which Husain’s distinctive intonations echo and resound.” Read the review online here.
Order your copy of Story is a Vagabond from UH Press.
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From Radical Graphics: Martin Luther King, Jr., B. R. Ambedkar, and Comics Auto/Biography in this issue. Figure 6. From page 48 of Bhimayana: Experiences of Untouchability, by Srividya Natarajan and S. Anand; Art by Durgabai Vyam and Subhash Vyam. © Copyright 2011 and reproduced by permission of the authors.
From Radical Graphics: Martin Luther King, Jr., B. R. Ambedkar, and Comics Auto/Biography in this issue. Figure 2. From page 58 of King: A Comics Biography, by Ho Che Anderson. © Copyright 2010, and reproduced by courtesy of Fantagraphics.
In the midst of the memoir boom of the late twentieth century, a sub-genre
in a wholly new medium made its presence felt: the graphic memoir and auto/biography. Using Ho Che Anderson’s King (1993–2002, published in a single edition in 2010) about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and S. Anand and Srividya Natarajan’s Bhimayana (2011, with art by Durgabai Vyam and Subhash Vyam), about the Indian social reformer, maker of the Indian Constitution, and leader of the so-called “untouchables” (“lower-castes” in the Hindu social order, now called “Dalits”), Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar, I will argue that graphic auto/biography offers a new mode in which to talk about social issues like racism and caste-based oppression.
Journal of World History volume 26 number 4 is a special issue edited by Gareth Curless, Stacey Hynd, Temilola Alanamu, and Katherine Roscoe. Titled “The British World as World History: Networks in Imperial and Global History,” this dedicated issue features imperial historians inspired by the “cultural turn” and the rise of global history. Instead of accounts that focus on a metropolitan center and a colonial periphery, scholars now advocate
a decentered approach to the study of empire, which emphasizes the importance of paying close attention to the multiple networks of capital, goods, information, and people that existed within and between empires. While these networked treatments of empire have added much to our understanding of imperialism, the articles in this special issue argue that historians must remain sensitive to the specifics of the imperial experience, the limits of imperialism’s global reach, and the way in which imperialism could lead to new forms of exclusion and inequality.
Articles in the special issue include:
- The Establishment of the Tongwen Guan and the Fragile Sin-British Peace of the 1860s, by Melissa Mouat
- “Home Allies”: Female Networks, Tensions, and Conflicted Loyalties in India and Van Diemen’s Land, 1826-1849, by Felicity Berry
- Settler Historicism and Anticolonial Rebuttal in the British World, 1880-1920, by Andam Behm
- The “Truth” about Kenya: Connection and Contestation in the 1956 Kamiti Controversy, by Katherine Bruce-Lockhart
- “Tropical Allsorts”: The Transnational Flavor of British Development Policies in Africa, by Charlotte Lynia Riley
- Functions and Failures of Transnational Activism: Discourses of Children’s Resistance and Repression in Global Anti-Apartheid Networks, by Emily Bridger
- Book reviews