The Bombay Review
has selected Dhaka as one of six South Asian cities for its event, The South Asian Literary Forum 2017. The other cities in which similar panels and workshops were held in 2017 are Karachi, Colombo and Srinagar. Originally scheduled for December 2 at Dhanmondi’s EMK Centre, the event was postponed for unavoidable reasons.
The bi-monthly literary journal, based in Mumbai, Jeddah, and New York, publishes poetry and short fiction, and holds literary events worldwide.
Corresponding to the magazine’s vision of “encouraging free and liberal speech,” it has organised the forum to “consider themes that critically design our socio-political fibre.”
Accordingly, panels and workshops on these themes were held in each city in the summer of 2017. A panel on the Rohingya crisis, “No country for lost men,” will be held in Dhaka in the early evening of January 7.
The first panellist is migration and gender expert Ishita Shruti who works with International Organisation of Migration, Bangladesh. She holds a PhD from the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
Tasneem Siraj Mahboob, associate professor of the Department of English at Dhaka University, is the second panellist. Her interests lie in teacher education, materials design, sociolinguistics and teaching language skills.
The third panellist, human rights researcher Taslima Yasmin, is an assistant professor of the Department of Law at Dhaka University. She has conducted significant socio-legal research in human rights issues, focusing on labour safety, access to justice, violence against woman and minority rights.
Amal, a Bangladeshi foundation that works with underprivileged communities, is the organiser’s Dhaka partner. Amal’s work with the Rohingya community includes providing them with shelter, food and healthcare.
The six-city tour commenced in Srinagar, Kashmir on May 26 with talks, panels, workshops, and open mic performances on “Embracing gender equality: The fight against sexism and patriarchy” and “Resistance to free speech.” The July 3 Karachi panel focused on “Resistance Literature: How do novels become acts of political resistance?”
In Colombo, panels on “Embracing Gender Equality” and “Resistance to Political Speech” were held on July 12, with celebrated local authors sharing with the audience the experiences, insights and views that shaped them and their work.
Kaartikeya Bajpai, director of the South Asian Literary Forum and founder and editor of the magazine, has confirmed that New Delhi and Kathmandu are still in the pipeline for 2018. Panels in these cities will also be along the same lines, on gender equality, oppression to free political speech, and the rising racism.
According to The Bombay Review
, in the aftermath of the forum, the different voices from these cities that resonate with the current standpoint of politics and gender in South Asia, whether personal, social, political, or local, will be compiled in order to identify how the subcontinent’s degenerated social structure affects the lives of its young people, and how a collective community voice can investigate the roots of inequality and injustice, and empower artists to initiate reforms.
A themed South Asian issue of the magazine will then follow, with all performers having an opportunity to get published in it. The stories featured will reflect the aspirations of the youth of that country through the words of its writers.
Sayeeda T Ahmad is a poet. Her first poetry collection, Across Oceans, was published by Bengal Lights Books in 2016.