Writing Across Disciplines
Chitra Harshvardhan
THIRD FRAME: LITERATURE, CULTURE AND SOCIETY by Mushirul Hasan Cambridge University Press, 2009, 200 pp., price not stated
April 2009, volume 33, No 4

Third Frame: Literature, Culture and Society, a new quarterly journal seeks, according to its editors, to provide a platform for ‘voices and concerns from developing societies’. The journal attempts to generate ideas across disciplines by focusing on issues, concepts and theories that have been seminal in the formation and evolution of the culture and society of the developing world and been reflected in its literature. The journal is not peer reviewed. The journal publishes thought-provoking short stories and poems relevant to our times. In Volume 1, No. 3, Manju Kak’s story ‘The Colour Caller’ draws attention to the human and cultural tragedy of Kashmir, the loss of Kashmiriyat and the hope that it would be revived. Similarly, in Volume 1 No. 2, Asghar Wajahat’s sensitively told story ‘I am a Hindu’ underscores the fact that the genesis of communal riots is not religion but rather the exploitation of religion by some.

The latter is a translation from Hindi by Rakhshanda Jalil, highlighting the importance given by the journal to initiating a dialogue across languages and cultures. Keki Daruwalla’s highly evocative poems also set up a dialogue across space and time and those of Rachna Joshi are reflective of globalism and diasporic existence.

The articles cover diverse issues ranging from music and religion to foreign policy and media. Madhu Khanna, in the article ‘Satyameva Jayate: A Convenient Truth!’, makes a fervent plea for the inclusion of Religious Studies in university programmes in India, believing that such a lacuna, if left unfilled, will result in either the dissemination and consolidation of orientalist perceptions of eastern religions or the resurgence of fundamentalist positions. Thus, it is contended that the space for exploring the worldview of diverse religious communities hermeneutically, which would lay the foundations for inter-community harmony and societal resilience, is seriously eroded, if not lost altogether, in the absence of Religious Studies from the curricula. The secular democratic ideal is the common thread running through many of the articles. The Pakistani freelance writer, Raza Rumi’s article ‘The Unorthodox Trinity of Love: Kabir, Bulleh and Lalon’ on the Sufi and Bhakti tradition with its emphasis on humanistic values that transcend religious dichotomy serves to deepen this impression. The songs/poems discussed are revolutionary in character since they reject religious orthodoxy and ignore hierarchies of caste and creed. Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s poetry of resistance, with which Pranay Krishna engages in the article ‘Poetry, Passion and Politics: Some Observations on Faiz’ echoes this same notion of modernity. Krishna critiques Gopi Chand Narang’s poststructuralist reading of Faiz that reduces this poetry to mere aesthetics stripping Faiz’s work of its powerful political content, which rouses the people to protest against their oppressors. Tabish Khair’s article ‘The Modernity of Ahmed Ali’ questions the stereotyping of change as the aping of western modernity and adherence to tradition as obscurantism since all societies across time and space are marked by flux. He also touches on the power of language to impact reality and in this context hails Ahmed Ali as a ‘bilingual, multicultural, rooted, cos-mopolitan, traditional and modern, national and international’ (p. 54, Vol. 1, No. 2).

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