I am posting below a much longer version of an article that is published in Himal Southasian. The Broken Palmyrah is out of print, but the entire book is on the UTHR(J) website.
Remembering Rajani and Re-Reading The Broken Palmyrah
September this year many will remember Rajani Thiranagama, a feminist, an activist, a Marxist, a scholar, a doctor and a teacher assassinated twenty years ago on September 21st, 1989. Among the reasons for her assassinations was the publication of that profoundly grounded work, The Broken Palmyrah, which she co-authored with three other academics from the Jaffna University. While we commemorate the life and work of Rajani at a time when the war has come to an end, in many ways the Palmyrah is still broken. It is in this context that I return to that inspiring work, which has much to teach us, in particular for those of us belonging to the younger generations of activists after Rajani. Inspiring, for despite the worst cruelties of war, it carried a message of hope, an analysis of possible ways forward and faith in the resilience of ordinary people. Continue reading Remembering Rajani and Re-Reading The Broken Palmyrah
A year ago in hearing of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto my heart sank as I thought our region was at boiling point. Over the last week as I heard news of the brutal attacks in Mumbai my heart sinks further as I mourn not only for Mumbai but for our region.
I want to begin with Southasia, borrowing from Himal Southasian. Himal claims it wants to “restore some of the historical unity of our common living space – without wishing any violence on the existing nation states”. I want to go further and not only hope for the eventual withering away of those nation states, but also consider the political space of not only Southasian history but of the Southasian present. And in thinking about Southasia, I can not avoid considering South Asia, as defined by the nation states and their relationship, particularly in the form of SAARC. And when I remember the last two SAARC Summits in 2007 and 2008, I recall a silence and an emphasis. Silence on political processes and emphasis on terrorism. Why the latter and not the former, even from the nation state perspective, both would be important within nation states and between nation states. Continue reading Terror and the Political Space of Southasia