Overture to a Long Tomorrow

With Bush elected for a second term, with a Republican-controlled House and Senate, with 11 states voting against gay marriage, we know now, if we already didn't, that we have a long battle ahead of us. This is our overture to a long tomorrow, a struggle that must continue for people's rights and social justice. From the continuing war on terror and the domestic assault on immigrants, to re-visioning and celebrating movement-building and the tensions of transnational organizing, this issue of SAMAR interrogates the politics and movements occurring within our communities and around the world.

Progressive struggles around the world continue to battle against the open-ended Bush-Sharon-Putin war against terror. In their article "A 'Morning After' Prescription: Remembering Abu Ghraib," Svati Shah and Rebecca Young chronicle the after-effects of the Iraqi prison scandal on U.S. politics, and its resonances with earlier repressions. Likewise, Sriram Ananthanarayanan analyzes, in "Legislating Terror," the decades of repressive laws that the Indian government has used to attack marginalized communities, all under the guise of combating terrorism. Rupali Ghosh, on the other hand, chronicles the struggles of Afghan refugees in Japan against racism and xenophobia, towards claiming their asylum rights as recognized under international law.

Rupali Ghosh's article on Afghan refugess organizing in Japan brings to the forefront the importance of movement building and sustaining engagement in these crucial times. Biju Mathew, in the third of his editorials for SAMAR, argues that progressives need to align their vision and efforts towards building long-term, sustainable mass movements. Vijay Prashad reflects on the catastrophic outcome of the presidential elections, and Vivek Boray critically analyzes the candidacy of Barack Obama from a progressive perspective. Two pieces highlight specific struggles and movements: Charisse Domingo's photo-essay on Punjabi Sikh truck drivers affiliated with the IWW in California, and an interview with Saru Jayaraman about organizing with ROC, the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York.

While these pieces focus on the dynamics of building particular movements over a long term, a few articles in this issue also address the developments and tensions arising from transnational organizing. Amy Paul reflects on the meanings and possibilities of development present at the last WSF, Elora Chowdhury explores the tensions of transnational organizing arising from Bangladeshi women's efforts to contest acid attacks in an international framework, and Uzma Rizvi analyzes the contests among archaeologists, religious spokespersons, and the Indian government in defining the shape and course of scholarship, and in uncovering the past of the Babri Masjid site.

A number of our contributors focused on aesthetic and artistic statements, and their political resonances in these fraught times. Ashwini Sukthankar explores the range of responses to the Bollywood lez-ploitation film Girlfriend, and Zahra Meherali describes the reactions of the Ismaili Muslim community around the world to the film, Touch of Pink. Sohail Daulatzai delves into the political and aesthetic resonances of Vivek Bald's documentary, Mutiny: Asians Storm British Music. Finally, Hirsh Sawhney meditates on Amitava Kumar's latest book, Husband of a Fanatic discussing tensions between secularism, fundamentalism, and identity.

Complementing the analysis, the manifestos, and the meditations, to sustain our movements and our souls in these times when the lines of battle are drawn more clearly by the day, we have two poems which evoke the moments leading up to the publication of this issue, Sham-e-Ali al-Jamil's "Hidden," and Beena Ahmad's "The Chair Lift."

We want to hear more from our readers on our bulletin boards. So please rant, rave and reflect at will. And do send us your work for the next issue of SAMAR Magazine -- check out our submissions page. Remember: even if your vote doesn't get counted, your submissions will!


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