Robert Fisk, in The Island, 2 January 2017, where the title is “Living among Jihadis in an Egyptian prison” … with emphasis in highlights being The Editor, Thuppahi’s imposition
To interview a jihadi is one thing, to live among jihadis quite another. To share their prison cells and their jail trucks on the way to a dictatorship’s trials is both a journalist’s dream and a journalist’s nightmare. Which makes Mohamed Fahmy a unique figure: in a prison bus, he hears his fellow inmates rejoicing at the beheading of a captured journalist in Syria. “They won’t let us out,” a voice shouts at Fahmy in Egypt’s ghastly Tora prison complex. “We haven’t seen the sun for weeks.” And he hears the rhythmic voices of prisoners reciting the Koran.
Fahmy, who is an Egyptian with Canadian citizenship, is the Al Jazeera English channel reporter who spent almost two years in his native country’s ferocious prison system, as a guest of President al-Sisi, locked up with two colleagues for being a pro-Muslim Brotherhood “terrorist”, fabricating news and endangering the “security” of the state. Continue reading
Filed under heritage, Islamic fundamentalism, jihad, landscape wondrous, legal issues, life stories, Middle Eastern Politics, modernity & modernization, politIcal discourse, power politics, religiosity, religious nationalism, self-reflexivity, the imaginary and the real, unusual people, vengeance, war reportage, world events & processes
Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta, on 28 June 2016 with title “Ashutosh Gowariker’s ‘Mohenjo Daro’ Falls Prey to Hindutva Horseplay”… and the pointed note: “The Hindu right’s worn-out, archaeologically-baseless argument that the Harappan civilisation and Rig Vedic age coincided, may get a new lease of life through the film’s poor depiction of history.”
A still from the trailer of Ashutosh Gowariker’s Mohenjo Daro, featuring lead actor Hrithik Roshan and showing the horse seal.
It seems that Ashutosh Gowariker’s quest for good cinema ends with humongous sets and big stars. While there seems to be a sudden – and welcome – urge among Hindi filmmakers to make historical epics, their lack of attention to historical facts leaves the discerning audience with a bad taste in the mouth. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani recently portrayed Bajirao as an indefatigable Hindu warrior, one whose only mission was to hoist the saffron flag in India by defeating his Muslim opponents, the Mughals. That the modern Indian state was yet to be born and that the Mughal empire was no caliphate, are facts disregarded by him.Ashutosh Gowariker’s ‘Mohenjo Daro’ Falls Prey to Hindutva Horseplay
Yet again, a historical film seems to be catching public attention, but for all the wrong reasons. Gowariker, of Lagaan (2001) and Jodhaa Akbar (2008) fame, recently released the trailer of his much-awaited Mohenjo Daro, which is being touted as not just his magnum opus but the greatest film ever made in India. Unfortunately, the trailer gives us nothing but a twisted idea of a civilisation that seems far from real. Mohenjo Daro, which was the name of one of the biggest urban townships of the Harappan or Indus Valley civilisation, is the story of one of the first cities of the world. Gowariker gets the date right – 2016 BCE, which the trailer announces – but apart from this, he gets almost every other aspect of the ancient civilisation grossly wrong. Continue reading
Filed under commoditification, cultural transmission, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, Indian religions, Indian traditions, landscape wondrous, life stories, pilgrimages, politIcal discourse, religious nationalism, the imaginary and the real, world affairs, zealotry
Sasanka Perera, courtesy of Groundviews where the title runs thus: “Shrillness of Nonsensical Cultural Politics and the Social History of a Song” … see http://groundviews.org/2016/02/08/18976/
About a week back in an email exchange I was prompted by ethnographic anecdotes sent by Arun Dias Bandaranaike in Colombo to suggest to him that we should collaborate on an article on the topics of “Insularity” and “Parochiality.” I see those concepts as inter-related and overlapping. My suggestion was/is that the foundation provided by insularity enables and inspires eruptions of chauvinism (in this focus among the Sinhalese peoples but the reasoning could be extended to other contexts and socio-political settings – for example, among the redneck and hill-billy locales in USA). So, this thoughtful essay from Sasanka Perera is serendipitous. We are on the same song-sheet. I have taken the liberty of highlighting portions of his essay in colour. Michael Roberts
The latest news from Sri Lanka’s often bizarre domains of cultural politics is that Buddhism is under threat along with Sinhala culture. This however, is not due to the corrupt and violent politics that still remain the hallmark of the country’s mainstream politics or because of the unethical and anti-doctrinal work of marauding Buddhist monks who have become storm troopers causing bodily harm to people, disrupting court proceedings and vehicular traffic in the country putting Hitler’s dreaded Brown-shirts to shame. Continue reading
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Jayatilleke de Silva, in The Daily News, 29 January 2016, where the title is “Theatre of the absurd in local politics”
Adolf Hitler claimed that Germans are of Aryan stock and that they are superior to other races. That is why he wanted to purify Germany by destroying the Jews. The world knows how this doctrine of racial superiority ended. It developed into the dangerous doctrine of fascism. In his crusade for world supremacy hundreds of Jews and others were put in concentration camps and executed. Of course Hitler appealed to the people in the name of patriotism and socialism to grab power “democratically”. The most deplorable factor in that situation was not the acquiescence of the ignorant but the silence of those who knew where Hitler was heading.
Filed under accountability, constitutional amendments, cultural transmission, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, landscape wondrous, language policies, legal issues, life stories, news fabrication, patriotism, plural society, political demonstrations, politIcal discourse, power politics, racist thinking, Rajapaksa regime, religious nationalism, security, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, terrorism, the imaginary and the real, truth as casualty of war, vengeance, violence of language, world affairs, zealotry
Dipesh Chakrabarty,* courtesy of South Asian History and Culture, vol. 7, no. 1, Jan. 2016
Everything seemed normal about the weekend of April 18-19, 2015 in Chicago until it ended with a very cruel blow to many around the world. Without any warning or early signs that could have prepared anybody for what was to come, it took Chris Bayly – Professor Sir Christopher Alan Bayly (1945-2015) – who was then visiting us at the University of Chicago, away. This tribute is in part a statement of my admiration for Bayly’s evolving academic personality; it is also an attempt to understand the shifting terrains of academic historiography that brought us together. Beginning from very different academic and social positions, following pathways that intersected as often as they diverged, we had come to a point, late in our careers, where I felt privileged enough to think of Bayly, an infinitely more accomplished person than I, as a “friend.” Not a close friend by any means, but we bore each other much good will and warm feelings of friendship. I had a role to play in Bayly becoming a visitor to the University of Chicago. Age-wise, Bayly was my senior by only a few years, but the gap between our careers was substantial. He was already a published scholar when I had just begun to dabble in historical research in Calcutta in the early 1970s. Bayly finished his Oxford DPhil in 1970. I finished my ANU Ph.D in 1983. His academic life spanned some forty-five years. From his first book, The Local Roots of Indian Politics: Allahabad, 1880-1920 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975), to the book he was working on till that fateful weekend last April, a history of the world in the twentieth century, it was a long and rich journey that included some significant, and sometimes collaborative, forays into South East Asian and other histories as well. Moved along by the sheer force of his erudition and research, and that of his intelligence that could connect events across very large gaps of geography, I also, like many others in my position, learned to evolve as a reader of Bayly. Continue reading
Filed under British colonialism, economic processes, ethnicity, governance, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, Indian religions, Indian traditions, landscape wondrous, modernity & modernization, politIcal discourse, population, power politics, religious nationalism, transport and communications, world events & processes