Tag Archives: narrative

Journal of Peasant Studies – Peasant Pasts: History and Memory in Western India

This book review should appear in the upcoming edition of the Journal of Peasant Studies. I cannot publish the whole bit here even though it is my work, since I signed over licensing rights but it should be available through your college databases.

I don’t know whether I will have time for more book reviews in the future or if it is an endeavor that I am any good at, but it was worth experimenting and I am not too displeased with the results. (The Publisher ain’t complaining; why should I)?

Review: Vinayak Chaturvedi, Peasant Pasts: History and Memory in Western India, University of California Press, 2007.

by Prerna Lal

Small excerpt:

The untold narrative of peasant classes marginalized from the promise of the postcolonial nation-state is a popular subject of research and criticism among subaltern scholars seeking to pose ruptures and discontinuities in the hegemonic history of Indian nationalism.

In Peasant Pasts: History and Memory in Western India, Chaturvedi embarks on this project after a chance discovery while pouring through archives on the agrarian economy of Gujarat: he discovers notes by the district magistrate about the historically-celebrated Patidars forcibly extracting labor from the Dhalara peasants in Kheda. Upon further investigation, Chaturvedi discovers that the Dharalas were considered a ‘criminal class’ by both the colonialists and Indian nationalists through the passage of the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871 and given their treatment, it came as no surprise that the Dharalas opposed Patidar-led nationalist politics along with colonialism.

Enamored by the prospects of an untold history of peasant pasts, the central thesis of this scholarship revolves around the actions, practices and discourses of the Dharala peasants before the emergence of an Indian nation-state. Chaturvedi claims that the Dharalas were political in their own right and their opposition to Patidar nationalism allied with Gandhi did not denote that these peasants lacked an understanding of politics or an inability to imagine political community. On the contrary, through rigorous fieldwork and archival study, Chaturvedi lays out a fragmentary and episodic history of the Dharala peasants that establishes their broad political discourses, complex understandings of political community, and subsequent resistance to both colonialism and nationalism.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Desi, Ethnic Studies, Nationalism, Political Theory

Appropriate songs-poetry for DREAM Act students?

Ok, so there is a part of me that appreciates some literary genius once in a while. Where are the DREAMers that write poetry, lyrics, sing or just know their music in general?

Are there any particular pre-existing songs or poetry that reminds you of your situation? Of life as an immigrant? An undocumented student?

This could be a fun project. We could use some quotes as slogans and put some on banners.

I found this today (we are on the “waiting” / “stillness” theme for this month I think while I churn out enough material for my papers) :

I’VE BEEN WAITIN’ FOR TOMORROW (ALL OF MY LIFE)

I’m hiding in the corner
Of an overgrown garden
Covering my body in leaves
And trying not to breathe
All my childhood dreams
Are bursting at the seams
And dangling around my knees
I’ve been deformed by emotional scars
And the cancer of love has eaten out my heart
I’ve been stripped bare and nobody cares
And all the people I looked up to are no longer there

All desires have been denied
To put me in this state of mind
Another year over and what have I done
All my aspirations have shriveled in the sun
I’m crippled by guilt, blinded by science
I’ve been waitin’ for tomorrow all of my life

I’ve been filled with useless information
Spewed out by papers and radio stations
I’ve been hounded by fair-weather friends
Sowing the seeds for my discontent
Life is like a sewer and I’m trying to wade thru her
I threw in my money and made my wish
But sleeping boys catch no fish

All desires have been denied
To put me in this state of mind
Another year over and what have I done
All my aspirations have shriveled in the sun
I’m crippled by guilt, blinded by science
I’ve been waitin’ for tomorrow all of my life

All my childhood dreams are dangling around my knees
My mind has been polluted and my energy diluted
My mind has been polluted and my energy diluted
MY MIND HAS BEEN POLLUTED AND MY ENERGY DILUTED

Fugazi Waiting Room

I am a patient boy
I wait, I wait, I wait, I wait
My time is like water down a drain
Everybody’s moving,
Everybody’s moving,
Everybody’s moving, moving, moving, moving
Please don’t leave me to remain
In the waiting room
I don’t want the news
I cannot use it
I don’t want the news
I won’t live by it
Sitting outside of town
Everybody’s always down
Tell me why?
Because… they can’t get up
Ahhh… Come on and get up
Come on and get up
But I don’t sit idly by
Ahhh…
I’m planning a big surprise
I’m gonna fight for what I want to be
I won’t make the same mistakes
Because I know
Because I know how much time that wastes
And Function
Function is the key
To the the waiting room
I don’t want the news
I cannot use it
I don’t want the news
I won’t live by it
Sitting outside of town
Everybody’s always down
Tell me why?
Because… they can’t get up
Ahhh… Come on and get up
Up for the waiting room
Sitting in the waiting room
Ahhh…
Tell me why?
Because… they can’t get up

Heck, even art that reminds you of your experience?

Government Bureau

Leave a Comment

Filed under Immigration

He was 17 when he was born

She sat there almost tranquilized fearing the consequences of her forthcoming actions, the path she had chosen to embark on. No doubt it was the road less traveled, it was harsh, an embattled life full of challenges, a thorny ride with no sure prospects of bearing any economical fruit.

Blink. Deep breath.

She opened her eyes and looked into the mirror. Unshed tears but also unswerving conviction stared back at her, beckoning her, challenging her to go through with her life-altering act.

She narrowed her eyes and bit her lower lip as she stared at herself, not out of indecision, but resolve. Jaws tightened and clenched together, moving to one side.

Click.

“So what should I give you?” The unfamiliar voice interrupted her stream of thoughts, if only for a second.

She sought the questioning eyes of the other woman in the mirror and spoke with sheer determination and will.

“Chop it off, all of it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes,” her voice unwavering, her confidence growing.

With that the woman began to slice through the long locks of oppression. They were without nerves and yet the pain of their coming separation visible in those unshed tears. The pain of the life left behind. But with that pain, a relief, waves of liberation rose as the chains fell all around the chair. In less than 20 minutes, the deed was done.

He looked at herself in the mirror. And smiled.

He was 17 when he was born.

Leave a Comment

Filed under LGBTQ, Vignettes

I refuse to succumb to self-deprecating, self-loathing mentality

Seriously, what have we done that is so shameful or grounds to feel guilty about? NOTHING.

Don’t tell me I am not human. Don’t tell me I am not as good as you. And certainly don’t tell me that my opinions are not as good as that of a straight, white male, American citizen.

I am a bit too educated to succumb to any categories, labels or tags anyone wants to give me. That’s the problem with this country; we have a labeling mentality. When people do not fit into our neatly constructed boxes of white/black, male/female, gay/straight, legal/illegal, we don’t know how to deal with it. The self-constructed anomaly becomes an Other, an object of our curiosity and obsession that we ‘treat’ as an alien foreign invasion, medicate, legislate, condition or control.

Just quit, I am too tired.

Oh, I got the internship. I have a couple days to decide whether I want to give my services to a good organization or whether I want to sit at home and DREAM more. Alright, time to pull up my socks and impress for the PhD programs.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Discourse Studies