Diaspora & Travel

19/03/16 Arts & Culture , Australia , Diaspora & Travel , Society & Politics # , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Vital literary genealogies

Vital literary genealogies

By Anupama Pilbrow

 

 

When I was ten years old, my godsister’s Indian mother and non-Indian father gave me a children’s novel called Neela: Victory Song by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I devoured it. It was about a girl my age living through India’s Partition. Neela was the first book by an Indian author that I ever read to myself.

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29/02/16 Arts & Culture , Australia , Diaspora & Travel , Society & Politics # , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In solidarity with the dissenting student community in India: A statement from Australia

In solidarity with the dissenting student community in India: A statement from Australia

As academics, students, writers, artists and activists from Australia, we condemn the use of oppressive power by the Indian state, its police, and Hindu fundamentalist groups to shut down voices of dissent emerging from within public universities in India.

We join the international community in extending our support to the students, faculty and staff at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Hyderabad Central University (HCU) and many other public universities, who have been courageously protesting the overreach of state power and brutal stifling of dissent, carried out in the guise of majoritarian Hindu nationalism (Hindutva).

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05/11/15 Diaspora & Travel , Society & Politics # , , , , , , , ,

What’s my beef? I’ll tell you…

What’s my beef? I’ll tell you…

by Meeta Chatterjee Padmanabhan

One of our friends told us this joke a decade or so ago: ‘Two Indian friends went to a restaurant and ordered steak. One friend asked the other, “So you are eating your mother today?” The friend promptly responded, “No, I am not. I am eating your mother”.’ It was one of those jokes that generated uneasy laughter and led to the suppression of unfunny questions. Were both of them Hindus? Which restaurant was this? The joke links two taboo topics into one: the embargo against eating beef; and cannibalism. Not to mention that eating anyone’s mother in any culture or country would be very bad manners.

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27/10/15 Arts & Culture , Australia , Diaspora & Travel , Society & Politics # , , , ,

The Left Who Cried Wolf

The Left Who Cried Wolf

By Gary Paramanathan

The other day I happened to be having a conversation with a colleague of mine. Much to my surprise, and a pleasant surprise at that, she said she no longer uses the term “Left Wing”, and has switched to “Progressive”. Now this is someone I look up to, someone who has a fairly strong sense of ethics and values that I ascribe to. Here I was, totally blown away that she was also contemplating abandoning the “Left”, at least semantically. I thought, when those of us who are clever with words, start abandoning certain words, it’s usually like the canary in the coal mine. A sign of changes to come.

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15/10/15 Arts & Culture , Australia , Diaspora & Travel , Society & Politics # , , , , , , ,

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?

By Rashida Murphy

 

When American genealogist Michael Derrick Hudson decided that he would publish his poetry under a pseudonym, on the surface, it wasn’t such a big deal. After all, writers have been using pseudonyms for centuries. Think the Bronte sisters, Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll and most recently, J.K Rowling’s reincarnation as Robert Galbraith. No, choosing a pseudonym in itself appears to be a personal, innocuous choice. What made Hudson’s choice interesting was that he chose Yi Fen Chou’s name, a woman who used to be his classmate in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Even more offensive to Asian writers was Hudson’s confession that he found it easier to publish his poetry under an assumed Asian name, because of editorial bias towards ‘ethnic-sounding’ names. Hudson claimed he submitted poetry under his own name and had it rejected, but his rate of acceptance escalated rapidly when using the Chinese pseudonym.

 

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09/10/15 Arts & Culture , Australia , Diaspora & Travel , Society & Politics # , , , , , , , ,

Reflections on the awkwardly knotted hyphen

Reflections on the awkwardly knotted hyphen

By Meeta Chatterjee-Padmanabhan

 

While rearranging book shelves at home, I came across old notebooks with Hindi and Tamil alphabets in my children’s handwriting. Each carefully formed letter triggered memories. I remember the smug satisfaction that my husband and I felt as we helped our girls connect with their heritage languages. The girls, on the other hand, barely suppressed their annoyance at not being able to join their friends leaping around with water guns in their hands and screaming with delight just outside our door. Many years later, reading Sticks and stones and such like, Sunil Badami’s phrase ‘the awkwardly knotted hyphen’ that inscribes the uneasy yoking of two distinct national cultures: ‘Indian-Australian, Australian-Indian depending on the day’ intrigued me. I have wondered, how awkwardly knotted can a hyphen be before it stops being a hyphen?
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04/08/15 Arts & Culture , Australia , Diaspora & Travel , Society & Politics # , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Same –sex and other Desires: Asian diversity in the face of Australian decadence

Same –sex and other Desires: Asian diversity in the face of Australian decadence

By Mridula Nath Chakraborty

 

Even as the country is in the grip of issues that seem to beset it from every angle, environmental concerns, racial discrimination, housing crisis, fluctuating dollar etc., the powers and parties that be are seeking to introduce yet another cog in the political machinery. Amidst the chilling winter in Australia this year, one issue seems to be giving many a heat-rash. As the ‘debate’ around same-sex marriage hots up and cries of religious alarm go up, there has been an unusual moment of ‘solidarity’ with Asia.

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21/07/15 Diaspora & Travel , Society & Politics # , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I Am Half Spanish

I Am Half Spanish

By Gary Paramanathan

My best friend and I have this running joke, I’ll say “I’m half Spanish” and she’ll ask “which half?” usually this rapport is met with slight amusement or dismay by the rest of our friends. I am not half Spanish, I’m entirely Sri Lankan (whatever that means?) So why this joke? It is our special little jab, we pull it out when we sense someone is in denial of his or her South Asianess.  By in denial, I mean trying to fabricate an identity that is a bit more mainstream, more appealing, and more special than the average South Asian. This kind of identity transition seems important especially in the dating world, where “mixed” is in and single origin is out. You only have to browse through any of the top dating apps to see South Asians, readily selecting “mixed” heritage.

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18/07/15 Arts & Culture , Australia , Diaspora & Travel , Meddling Maami , Society & Politics # , , , , , , ,

What level of talent do I need to have/achieve so I’m never pestered into finding a husband?

What level of talent do I need to have/achieve so I’m never pestered into finding a husband?

My dears! It was so so lovely to see you all at the great little bash we had to celebrate the launch of our wonderful Southern Crossings blogazine. Who cared that we were not allowed to reserve tables inside the pub? Who noticed the thunderous pouring rain in the courtyard amid the cacophonous warmth of southerners from the subcontinent and the island-continent? My dear nephews and nieces, you set the bar (ha ha, pun intended) really high with your revelling that night. Joy of joys, some of you even came and revealed your heart’s secrets and appealed to me for comfort, like old times. Now that I have had the time to think deeply and deliciously about your concerns, here’s some skerricks of advice from your loving Meddling Mammi.

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15/07/15 Arts & Culture , Australia , Diaspora & Travel , Society & Politics # , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On not fitting into boxes: An exploration of borders and border-crossers

On not fitting into boxes: An exploration of borders and border-crossers

By Sukhmani Khorana

 

Born in Jammu, the winter capital of the northernmost state of India, I felt rather like the character of Lenny in Deepa Mehta’s film, Earth. For those who may not be familiar with the text, Lenny is a Parsi girl living in Pakistan at the time of partition whose life is thrown asunder as she plays neutral witness to the growing feuds among her erstwhile neighbourly Hindu, Muslim and Sikh friends and carers.

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