"Orientalism was a European enterprise from the very beginning. The scholars were European; the audience was European; and the Indians figured as inert objects of knowledge. The Orientalist spoke for the Indian and represented the object in texts. Because the Indian was separated from the Orientalist knower, the Indian as object- as well as its representation- was construed to be outside and opposite of self; thus,both the self and the other, the rational and materialist British and the emotional and spiritual Indian, appeared as autonomous, ontological, and essential entities. Of course, the two essential entities, the spiritual India and the materialistic West, made sense only in the context of each other and the traces of each in the other, which suggested that heterogeneity and difference lay beneath the binary opposition, although the process of rendering India into an object external both to its representation and to the knower concealed this difference. It also made the colonial relationship- the enabling condition of British Orientalism- appear as if it was irrelevant to the production of knowledge. As a result, although colonial dominance produced the East-West construct, it looked as if this binary opposition not only pre-dated the colonial relationship but also accounted for it. In other words, Orientalist textual and institutional practices created the spiritual and sensuous Indian as an opposite of the materialistic and rational British,and offered them as justifications for the British conquest."

Gyan PrakashWriting Post-Orientalist Histories of the Third World: Perspectives from Indian Historiography (via sitaronse)

(via pbnpineapples)

"It is worth pointing out that there is a misguided assumption among some Muslims that Pakistani-style blasphemy laws are divinely-mandated. They aren’t. They were instituted by Pakistani dictator General Zia ul Haq in the 1980s, says leading Pakistani human-rights lawyer Asma Jahangir, “as a pretext for waging war in Afghanistan and adopting an aggressive stance towards India. By advancing a more orthodox version of Islam, he was able to hold on to a repressive regime and quell any opposition.”"

Not In My Name: Islam, Pakistan and the Blasphemy Laws. - Mehdi Hassan in Huffington Post criticizes the recent allegation of “blasphemy” against an eleven-year-old Pakistani Christian girl with Downs syndrome. An excellent rebuttal to those attempting to use the BL against the child.

Here is the reality: the books of Islamic tradition are replete with stories of how Prophet Muhammad was verbally and physically abused by his idol-worshipping enemies in Mecca. They threw animal intestines and excrement on him; on one famous occasion, a group of homeless children threw stones and rocks at him. Yet he did not have them killed, tortured or detained. The founder of the Islamic faith, it seems, had a much thicker skin than many of its 21st Century adherents.

Co-signed as a fellow Muslim. Free Rifta Masih.

(via mehreenkasana)


…It is possible to argue that Asia, Africa and South America are the only cultural regions that are truly multi-cultural today. Because in these parts of the world, living simultaneously in two cultures-the modern western and the vernacular-is no longer a matter of cognitive choice, but a matter of day-to-day survival for the humble, the unexposed and the ill-educated. Compared to that multicultural sensitivity, the fashionable contemporary ideologies of multiculturalism and post-coloniality in our times look both shallow and provincial.

One of the most damaging legacies of colonialism, however, lies in a domain that attracts little attention. The West’s centrality in all intercultural dialogues of our times has been ensured by its dominance of the cultural language in which dialogue among nonwestern cultures takes place. Even when we talk to our neighbours, it is mediated by western categories, western assumptions and western frameworks. We have learnt to talk to even our closest neighbours through the West.

This inner demon that haunts us has managed to subvert most forms of cultural dialogue among the non-western cultures. All such dialogues today are mediated by the West as an unrecognised third participant. For each culture in Asia today, while trying to talk to another Asian culture, uses as its reference point not merely the West outside, but also its own version of an ahistorical, internalised West, which may or may not have anything to do with the empirical or geographical West. One can no longer converse with one’s neighbour without conversing with its alienated self, its internalised West, and without involving one’s own internalised West.


Defining A New Cosmopolitanism: Towards a dialogue of Asian Civilizations by Ashis Nandy


Apart from the characterization of the political condition of India preceding the British conquest as a state of anarchy, lawlessness and arbitrary despotism, a central element in the ideological justification of British colonial rule was the criticism of the “degenerate and barbaric” social customs of the Indian people, sanctioned, or so it was believed, by their religious tradition. Alongside the project of instituting orderly, lawful and rational procedures of governance, therefore, colonialism also saw itself as performing a “civilizing mission.” In identifying this tradition as “degenerate and barbaric,” colonialist critics invariably repeated a long list of atrocities perpetrated on Indian women, not so much by men or certain classes of men, but by an entire body of scriptural canons and ritual practices which, they said, by rationalizing such atrocities within a complete framework of religious doctrine, made them appear to perpetrators and sufferers alike as the necessary marks of right conduct. By assuming a position of sympathy with the unfree and oppressed womanhood of India, the colonial mind was able to transform this figure of the Indian woman into a sign of the inherently oppressive and unfree nature of the entire cultural tradition of a country.

Of course, within the discourse thus constituted, there was much debate and controversy about the specific ways in which to carry out this project. The options ranged from proselytization by Christian missionaries to legislative and administrative action by the colonial state to a gradual spread of enlightened Western knowledge. Underlying each option was the colonial belief that in the end Indians themselves must come to believe in the unworthiness of their traditional customs and embrace the new forms of a civilized and rational social order.


Partha Chatterjee, Colonialism, Nationalism, and Colonialized Women: The Contest in India

This is a great essay about the inadvertent construction of a new patriarchy through nationalism as a response to colonialists and their manipulative characterization of the colonized Indians.

You can click through to read it.

(via sitaronse)

(via themindislimitless)

"[M]any nations of the third world are described as ‘underdeveloped’. These less wealthy nations are generally those that suffered under colonialism and neo-colonialism. The ‘developed’ nations are those that exploited their resources and wealth. Therefore, rather than referring to these countries as ‘underdeveloped’, a more appropriate and meaningful designation might be ‘over exploited’. Again, transpose this term next time you read about the ‘underdeveloped nations’ and note the different meaning that results."

— Robert B. Moore, “Racist Stereotyping in the English Language” (via wretchedoftheearth)

(via pbnpineapples)


While cultural studies scholars such as Hall, Edward Said, and Paul Gilroy have written about the “pitfalls of identity” that arise when examining the Other, it should be noted that cultural identities – particularly those that have been traditionally disenfranchised – have become commodities in the same way as cultures themselves. Identities have become marketable, as exhibited by large media corporations seeking to brand multiculturalism and “sell” Others as products in the global mainstream. As John Fiske writes, “while the multiculturalist will talk of diversity and difference, the multinational CEO turns the coin over and talks of product diversification and market segmentation.”

Conceptualizing diasporic populations has also become problematic, both for scholars of identity and corporations seeking to use identity politics as a means of cultivating consumers. As Jolanta Drzewiecka notes, “Diaspora groups play an identity game legitimating their in between position in two different national contexts,” which helps to bolster their claims of collectivized authenticity in both their “new” land and their “homeland” – the latter being either a physical or psychological one. Diasporic identities have emerged as a battleground in countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, where media corporations have sought to commodify marginalized groups such as Asians and West Indians while presenting discourse on homeland as a seemingly monolithic experience.

South Asian American identity is a contested terrain because of its diversity and its uniqueness in experience from other Diasporic and immigrant populations. As Yoav Hammer notes, culture can be both consuming and limiting to those who identify with a certain label. “Culture has a largely unconscious enveloping effect on members of the cultural group, defining the horizon of possibilities open to them, from amongst which to choose their course of action. Culture is a type of language shared by members of the cultural group. It defines the meanings they attribute to objects and actions and forms their identity.” Using this meaning, it is nearly impossible to define a common South Asian American culture. Though the very idea of a culture of Desis (the Hindi colloquial for “local”), in many ways, is an aberration – cultural critic Vijay Prashad would argue further that culture itself, at least the notion of cultural purity, is a fallacy – the prevalence of consistent images relating to Indian and to Indianness have led to a media-created notion of identity.


— Murali Balaji, The Commodification of the Other and MTV’s Construction of the “Ideal Type” Desi (via sitaronse)

(via alscientist)

Asian Americans and American Politics: From Discrimination to Participation


Carmencita-Mia Q. Fulgado

Racial and ethnic identity will always be a challenging issue, especially in American society. I have often wondered while filling out forms and applications which category most appropriately represents my background - Am I “Asian American” or “Asian Pacific Islander?” I have concluded that the best choice is “Other” and a blank line that allows me to write specifically: “Filipino American.” I contemplate my identity as an Asian American to illustrate the importance of racial and/or ethnic identification with respect to politics and how racial discrimination is a significant barrier to political participation.

Read More

(Source: facpub.stjohns.edu)

"Colonial rule projected western science as the ultimate source of knowledge and western values as supreme. Stereotypes of oppressed non-western women had their counterpart in the male, rational western culture, coming to their rescue, both metaphorically and literally. Unfortunately, these stereotypes became so entrenched in the psyche of post-colonial nation builders that they and even third-world feminist activists confuse development with “westernization.” The fallacy of such an assumption becomes clear when one takes a glance at the realities of everyday life where crimes against women and poverty and marginalization of the masses is exploding in the most urban metropolises with the highest exposure to modernization and globalization. Urban India is replete with rising incidences of crimes against women. Conservative supporters of westernization would attribute such malaise to “tradition.” But rational thought points to globalization, with its emphasis on material values, consumerism and “trashing” of traditional knowledge. Globalization has eroded the traditional resource base as well as the knowledge and power associated with it."

— Globalization and modernity in India: A gendered critique by Subhadra Mitra Channa (via sitaronse)

(via azaadi)


Lila Abu-Lughod. “Islam and the Gendered Discourses of Death.” International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 25, No. 2 (May, 1993).
I really liked reading this article. I never even considered the role of gender and Islam in funerals before.


Lila Abu-Lughod. “Islam and the Gendered Discourses of Death.” International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 25, No. 2 (May, 1993).

I really liked reading this article. I never even considered the role of gender and Islam in funerals before.

(via sharquaouia-deactivated20121015)

"Because women are not deemed as important as men in most Muslim majority or minority communities, Muslim women do not enjoy a status equal to men. If the definitive basis for what Islam means is determined by what Muslims do, then women and men are not equal. However, I reasoned that only explicit Qur’anic indication that women and men were other than co-equals could require acceptance of this inequality as a basis of faithfulness to Islam. Mercifully, the more research I did into the Qur’an, unfettered by centuries of historical androcentric reading and Arabo-Islamic cultural predilections, the more affirmed I was that in Islam a female person was intended to be primordially, cosmologically, eschatologically, spiritually, and morally a full human being, equal to all who accepted Allah as Lord, Muhammad as prophet, and Islam as [religion]. What remained was to advocate the details of this research as legitimate grounds for contesting the unequal treatment that women have experienced historically and continue to experience legally in the context of Muslim communities.
The confirmation of women’s equality that resulted from my studies in the Qur’an ws overwhelming… ."

— Amina Wadud, Qur’an and Women: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Women’s Perspective