Women speak out about writing, poetry, freedom of expression and politics: looking back at 2021

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The season of dissent in India: interview with the poet Karthika Naïr
Karthika Nair and Laetitia Zecchini

In an interview conducted on Skype, and reviewed by email in September 2020, Laetitia Zecchini and Karthika Naïr talk about Shaheen Bagh and Naïr’s poem “Ghazal: India’s Season of Dissent”; the activism of Indian writers and artists; the politics of literature; the relevance of poetry to protest movements and resistance struggles; of how literary texts can “respond” to violence, grief and pain. Read an excerpt from the interview.

Lata is at the intersection of my aesthetic questions and my political questions ”
Alisha Tejpal and Namrata Joshi

Tejpal’s 21-minute film shines a light on an essential member of our homes – a crucial part of our lives that usually goes unnoticed and unrecognized or not celebrated as much as needed – the household helper. It’s a slice of the daily life of home help Lata (performed by real domestic worker Shobha Dangale) in a wealthy house in South Mumbai. The film is as much about her daily chores as about her personal dreams and ambitions and the little moments of joy that she takes hold of herself. Tejpal talks about his themes, concerns, and cinematic approach in a detailed interview with film critic Namrata Joshi.

“There is more distress and injustice in today’s society”
Devaki Jain and the ICF team

In his memories, The copper notebook (Speaking Tiger, 2020) Renowned feminist economist, academic and women’s rights activist, Devaki Jain, tells her story and through her, that of an entire generation and nation. She begins with her childhood in southern India, living a life of comfort and ease with a father who served as a dewan in the princely states of Mysore and Gwalior – with the restrictions of growing up in a Tamil Orthodox Brahmin family. . From there, memories run through Ruskin College, Oxford and Harvard, and through her professional life, which has seen her become deeply involved in the cause of women workers in the informal economy and their struggle for a better life.

Comedy just a costume, it’s an anti-minority movement
Aditi Mittal and Aparna Mahiyaria

Earlier this year, Munawar Faruqui, the standing comedian from Gujarat was apprehended by some people during his act in Indore. He was later arrested and denied bail on the grounds that his act was allegedly offensive to Hindu deities. A member of Indian Cultural Forum spoke to another comedian, one of the few women in this creative industry, Aditi Mittal, about the incident, the politics of offense and the freedom to laugh.

“I am driven by the desire to tell stories of women …”
Shashi Deshpande and Githa Hariharan

Shashi Deshpande has had a long and successful career as a writer of novels, short stories and essays. She not only experienced many Indies, past and present, but also contributed to debates on the understanding of contemporary social, literary and political issues in India. Subversions: Essays on Life and Literature (Context, 2021), selected and compiled by Nancy E Batty and Dieter Riemenschneider, invites its readers to enter into this fascinating dialogue. In Part 2 of Conversation with Writer Githa Hariharan, Deshpande talks about her complex relationship with languages, the use of myths to comment on societal norms and more.

Writing as a powerful tool of resistance
Haifa Zangana and Ritu Menon

Between May 2015 and May 2016, Iraqi writer Haifa Zangana organized two 12-hour workshops in Ramallah with 10 Palestinian political prisoners, recently released from Israeli jails where they had been held for up to 10 or 12 years. A party for Thaera (Women Unlimited, 2021) brings together their diverse offering – such as a short story, a memoir, a diary, letters, a poem or a song, even a dream – in poignant and vivid detail and is, at the same time, an act courage as well as resistance. In this conversation with writer and editor Ritu Menon, Zangana talks about the book and more.

Born Muslim
Ghazala Wahab and Sahba Husain

Ghazala Wahab’s Born a Muslim: some truths about Islam in India traces the history of religion from its revelation in Arabia in the 7th century to its spread to many parts of the world. Combining personal memories, history, reports, studies and interviews with a wide variety of people, Wahab highlights how an apathetic and at times hostile attitude of the government and prejudices at all levels of society have contributed to the vulnerability and insecurity of people. Muslims. In this conversation with freelance researcher, writer and women’s rights activist Sahba Husain, Ghazala Wahab talks about her book and being “born Muslim”.


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