The Lady and the Peacock by Peter Popham is a timely book as Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) takes hesitant steps towards democracy. Popham explores the life of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s most famous former political prisoner, and the unusual circumstances which brought her into the spotlight of the fight for democracy in Myanmar. Popham’s easy journalistic style of writing makes the book accessible to the larger public, and his book is well researched and thought-provoking.
"There are many nostalgic objects on immigrant bookshelves, and still the narrative as a whole is not that of nostalgia. Diasporic souvenirs do not reconstruct the narrative of one’s roots but rather tell the story of exile. They are not symbols but transitional objects that reflect multiple belonging. The former country of origin turns into an exotic place represented through its arts and crafts usually admired by foreign tourists. Newly collected memories of exile and acculturation shift the old cultural frameworks. Now they are a cipher for exile itself and for a newfound exilic domesticity. If Kabakov’s installations reveal the desire to inhabit in the most trivial everyday manner the sacred spaces of the artistic establishment, immigrants’ homes betray an obsession with making everyday existence beautiful and memorable. Their rooms filled with diasporic souvenirs are not altars to their unhappiness, but rather places for communication and conversation. They do not manage to live in the eternal present of the American myth, but neither can they afford to dwell in the past. Diasporic intimacy is possible only when one masters a certain imperfect aesthetics of survival and learns to inhabit exile. The immigrants cherish their oases of intimacy, away from the homeland and not quite in the promised land. They have accents in both languages- foreign and native."
— Svetlana Boym, “Immigrant Souvenirs” (via abstractverses)
"To live in diaspora is to be haunted by histories that sit uncomfortably out of joint, ambivalently ahead of their time and yet behind it too. It is to feel a small tingle on the skin at the back of your neck and know that something is not quite right about where you are now, but to know also that you cannot leave. To be un-homed is a process. To be unhomely is a state of diasporic consciousness."
— Lily Cho, The Turn to Diaspora (via et—cetera)
On this site there has been a lot of discussion about ideas of internalized white supremacy within the Desi community and how we fairer girls are more prized than darker girls.
Except Desi femininity isn’t just defined by the color of our skin (and the size of our curves but that’s for another post). Desi femininity, at least ~the good kind~, is also portrayed into girls who are mild mannered and don’t think too much. They are obedient to their parents and conform well within the society. The scariest part though, is how a women’s intelligence fits into that theme.
Please don’t get me wrong. I am making huge generalizations here of course and there are lot of contexts I need to take into account (that I can’t think of right now, I am really not trying to write an academic paper just starting a conversation) but the Desi community can sometimes be very intimidated by female intelligence. I don’t just mean the Taliban attack against Malala Yousfzai kind of thing. I mean, there are subtle jokes made about women who are into academia and hence haven’t found husbands. Or those women whose parents tell them to stop pursuing higher educations like getting a Masters etc (they already have a Bachelors) because what if they don’t get husbands then? The thought process, that if a woman is more educated than her husband then she won’t respect him and it will be the cause of undoing of their marriage, is another really really harmful stigma that exists within our community. And I am not exactly sure where they stem from (I know that Islam stresses on education for women though you wouldn’t believe it hearing half of the South Asian mullahs - I don’t know about the stance on such stuff from other religions so I am not going to talk about that) but I’ve honestly started wondering if self esteem issues among South Asian women may also stem from this.
I know I need to do some serious research on this. But thoughts and feedback?