Absent Voices #5: “What is your problem with our Freedom?”: Lipstick under my Burkha and the Indian Patriarchy

Artwork from 2016 film ‘Lipstick Under my Burkha’. Attribution: Alankrita Shrivastava, (director). Facebook post 8 November 2016. [online]. https://www.facebook.com/alankrita.shrivastava.
The question put forth in the title is the one that Rehana Abidi (played by Plabita Borthakur), one of the four protagonists of Alankrita Srivastava’s latest release Lipstick under my Burkha (India, 2017), asks in the film while interviewed by a journalist at an agitation against the decision of banning jeans for women in the college.  The irony of the utterance comes to a full circle through the refusal of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to release the film in India.  Two points are of tremendous importance in the letter of refusal from the CBFC. The film was denied release because “the story is lady-oriented, their fantasy above [sic] life. There are contanious [sic] sexual scenes and abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society” (emphasis mine). The basis for the embargo on the exhibition of the film in India seems to connect to the narrative’s depiction of four women exercising choice in their own lives, a premise which the CBFC considers as “their fantasy” about life. Indeed, as long Continue reading

Absent Voices #4: Giving Voice to the Dead and the Non-living: Music and Collaboration on the Battle of Vimy Ridge

Canadian National Vimy Memorial in Northern France. Designed by Walter Seymour. Completed in 1936.

In early April, Canada will mark the centenary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge: a seminal conflict in the First World War, relying on the successful collaboration of British and Canadian forces on the French battleground, and which was to be the first true moment of nationhood for the infant Canada. Indeed, the battle was hugely successful in military terms, which saw the soldiers retake the ridge from German forces in three days. But lest we forget, such success also inevitably relies on the deaths of thousands.

To that end, let us also consider the Vimy Memorial: a monolithic, modernist construction unveiled in 1936, comprised of two stone pillars jutting up from the battleground at Vimy. It is grand, imposing; the structure dominates the ridge and peers over the picturesque French landscape below. Around the base of the structure, some 11,000 names are engraved: the dead Canadian soldiers whose locations remain unknown. However, in a startling juxtaposition of style and form, the pillars are inlaid with twenty neoclassical statues, each variously personifying virtues, symbols, people, and tableaux. At the base of the memorial, Mother Canada (both a personification of the nation and a symbolic Mater Dolorosa), looks despondently upon the now-peaceful ridge, still scarred by this century-old battle. Continue reading

The Still Point Manifesto

Some words of inspiration…

The Still Point manifesto is an experimental attempt to reflect the collective thoughts of the editorial team. Its aim is not to read like a linear narrative, but instead, like a collection of unfiltered conversations with the mind. As contributors, we encourage you to approach your submissions with the same degree of open-mindedness. What are those hidden conversations hiding behind your academic work?  Let us engage with you just as much as your ideas. Tell us your research story!

The Still Point Editorial Team


Following our successful launch of the second issue, we are now accepting submissions for Issue 3: Borders.  The Still Point is looking for innovative responses in a variety of forms including, narratives, essays, short fiction, and poetry. For more information check out our ‘Calls for Submissions’ in the ‘About’  section of the website’s banner.

 

 

The Still Point Call for Submissions 2017: Borders (EXTENDED DEADLINE)

The Still Point Journal is a bit like a ‘Tardis’ – barreling through the depths of space and time, it transports the mind to universes limited only by those imaginations that govern them. This journal is dedicated to academic culture, music, film, arts, and research. We encourage researchers to infuse modes of perception and expression in their responses and to transform and challenge dominant structures of literary writing. From the footnotes to the bibliography, we celebrate everything manifested through the research process. The journal aspires to reflect and represent the voices of creative thinkers and researchers. 

Following our successful launch of the second issue, we are now accepting submissions for Issue 3: Borders.  The Still Point is looking for innovative responses in a variety of forms including, narratives, essays, short fiction, and poetry. Continue reading

Absent Voices #3: Words from the Soul: Private Letters between John Locke and Damaris Masham

Portrait of John Locke, by Sir Godfrey Kneller. Oil on canvas. 76×64 cm. Britain, 1697. Source of Entry: Collection of Sir Robert Walpole, Houghton Hall, 1779. Attribution: Sir Godfrey Kneller [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
It’s not often, as a Gender Studies researcher studying the history of philosophy, that I find myself wanting to hear more from one of the famous-dead-white-men that make up the bulk of the field. You might be especially surprised to hear that, after working my way through An Essay Concerning Human Understanding from start to finish, I wanted to hear more from John Locke. When my PhD project is on early modern women philosophers, women whose philosophical voices are still too often absent from the classroom, why would I want to read missing texts from one of the great canonical English philosophers, a man whose writings we possess in abundance?

It’s like this. One of the women I’m studying is Damaris Masham (1658/9-1708), a philosopher whose thought is largely known to us through her two published treatises. But they weren’t all she wrote. Masham was an extremely close friend of Locke’s – they met when she was twenty-two, twenty-three, when he was already an established philosopher of nearly fifty. They quickly struck up an exchange of letters which lasted for several years. The only reason the epistolary flow between them stopped was that he actually moved into the house Masham shared with her husband and lived there until his death. They were close enough that snide comments were made at the time about the “seraglio” at the Masham household, and speculation has been made since about the extent to which their intense friendship bordered on a romantic connection. Continue reading

Absent Voices #2: Chasing Echoes: The Perpetrator’s Voice in the History of Violence

Double-deck burning in 2011 England Riots. Attribution: By VOA Persian Interview (VOA TV) [Public domain or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
In the summer of 2011 several English cities witnessed explosions of very public violence. Rioters, for the most part young men, smashed windows, looted shops, set fires and threw stones at the ranks of armoured police who descended on them. Afterwards, most people responded in one of two ways. Right-wing politicians and commentators lined up behind David Cameron to condemn ‘mindless violence and thuggery’. On the left, the story was about inequality, unemployment and bad policing. With a few honourable exceptions, nobody asked the rioters.

People who do violent things usually have some sense of why they do them. We might not like their reasoning, but we can’t properly understand violence without it. Sticking with the riots as an example, the left-wing narrative clearly has a lot to be said for it, with interpretations backed up by solid data on urban deprivation. But it lacks the voice of the Londoner in his mid-20s who said, ‘When no one cares about you you’re gonna eventually make them care, you’re gonna cause a disturbance.’ For him rioting wasn’t an instinctive reaction to big structural forces – it was strategic, a sensible thing to do under the circumstances.

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Still Point Blog Theme #3: Diversions – Call for Submissions

From mid-April into May, our next theme at the Still Point blog will engage the topic of DIVERSIONS. We are seeking blog posts from doctoral and early career researchers –solid submissions from Masters students are also welcomed – that examine the subject of Diversions in a variety of ways. Such topics might include reflection pieces on the kinds of things that provide relief during the research process (i.e. music, hobbies, Netflix binges…), diversion as a tactic of subversion, diversion as a positive/negative experience, etc. Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis up until the next theme is announced. Entries often take the form of non-fiction, but we also accept fiction, poetry, and visual art. Continue reading

Absent Voices #1 (Feature Piece): Adversity, Spontaneity, and the Forgotten Song of the Nightingale in our Urban Experience

An Uber has been sent to your location. But has anyone actually sent it? Is it not acting rather on its own instructions? Sure, certain transport purists claim that Uber drivers do not know where they are going, that they blindly follow route guidance. Others, Uber’s faithful customers, say they don’t mind being taken down dead ends or across the odd playing field on their way home. Some, sent home by friends having disgraced themselves on a night out, are too drunk to notice. 

In any case, the Uber journey invariably begins with the U-turn. For when you press ‘Request Uber’ on your smartphone application, somewhere, minutes away—urban distance is now measured in minutes, not miles—an Uber is obliged to halt in the street, perform a U-turn, and head your way.

What is so unusual about that? The U-turning Uber is fast becoming an urban commonplace in London, rivalling the black cab cruising down an empty bus lane while you sit motionless in traffic, or the ranks of chip shops along the high street promising a final refuge for your Saturday night. Take a walk through Shoreditch this weekend and you will see streets thick with U-turning Ubers, cavorting and convulsing in the thoroughfare like ecstatic devotees.

Still, there is something rather odd about all this. Dangerous, ungainly, and impromptu, the U-turn is everything that the Uber website promises the service is not. In the moment of the U-turn, all that slickness goes out the window. How could this seamless system of ‘Tap and Ride’ ever permit such an aberration? We expect a sublime service: to be surprised by the driver—his engine almost silent—rolling up from nowhere (or rather, falling off a virtual map and appearing in the real) like on the forecourt of a posh hotel.

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New Beginnings #5: Eimear McBride and Literary Revolution at the LSE Literary Festival

Author Eimear McBride, 2016. Attribution: Larry D. Moore, via Wikimedia Commons, 2016

This year’s LSE literary festival, held around the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, takes ‘Revolutions’ as its theme, examining various forms of upheaval and regeneration in literature, politics, religion, and science. I was fortunate enough to attend ‘Revolutions in Literature’, a talk which brought together author Eimear McBride and Toby Lichtig, editor of the Times Literary Supplement.  McBride and Lichtig discussed literary revolution, considering the innovations of modernism at the turn of the 20th century alongside the methods being used in today’s contemporary fiction. Given my PhD research in contemporary Irish poetry, the event was hugely beneficial in furthering my understanding of the new beginnings currently underway in recent Irish novel writing. Continue reading

New Beginnings # 4: Politicising the Past: A Review of King’s Greek Play Prometheus Bound

prometheus-boundClassics, perhaps more than any other academic discipline, is frequently subject to accusations of being irrelevant to modern society. This is an aspect of the discipline perpetuated by traditional, reductive perspectives that criticise acts, such as translation or reception, which would challenge the canonical status of a classical text. Increasingly, however, classicists have challenged such essentialist arguments through acts of reception that note the capacity of both ancient texts and iconic ancient figures to resonate with modern ideological struggles.

I recently had the opportunity to attend Greek Play, an annual production staged by King’s Classics department that provides audiences with the unique opportunity to experience Greek drama in the original ancient language. For 2017, this was a student production of Prometheus Bound at the Greenwood Theatre. This production was, in a sense, a New Beginning for the Greek Play itself, since it was the first time the play has been performed in its history of sixty-four years. Moreover, through the figure of Prometheus, it sought to challenge assumptions about the relevance of Classical literature to provide an enlightening analogue to current issues raised by world politics. Continue reading