SAMAR Celebrates Fifteen Years

This summer's issue of SAMAR is timely not only for commemorating our fifteenth anniversary, but also rather appropriately the 150th anniversary of the 1857 Sepoy Rebellion, India's first war of united and organized resistance against British colonialism. SAMAR was born out of a response to the Babri Masjid demolition at Ayodhya in 1992 when a group of young South Asian activists recognized the need to unite and resist a prevailing Hindu right wind blowing both within the subcontinent and throughout the Diaspora. Over the past few years, we have seen similar gales of fundamentalism blowing in with Christian and Islamic dogma, and the oppressive ways these forces play out on the world stage and in our communities. Both anniversaries represent efforts to unite a diverse range of progressive South Asian voices against oppression—Be it against the British, the BJP, the Taliban or a morality-obsessed Bush regime.

In our latest issue of SAMAR, we explore three examples—in India, in Pakistan and in England—of struggles, resistance and extremism. In "Freedom of Speechlessness," anthropology doctoral student Kausalya relates the "saffronization" of censorship in India through the recent arrest of a university art student whose paintings were deemed anti-Hindu by BJP officials. Hamad Sindhi explores the public discourse around gender politics in Pakistan in "The Oppressed Truth," a commentary on the Shahzina Tariq and Shamial Raj case now awaiting appeal by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. In "Londonistan Recalled," Brendan LaRoque critiques commentary writer Christopher Hitchens for refusing to take in British racisms and colonial legacies when trying to understand the growing Muslim community in England.

In addition, we feature a work of poetry and fiction in this issue. In an effort to raise awareness for the ongoing lack of access to HIV/AIDS medication in East Africa, LA-based physician and poet elsrizee submitted his poem, "On AIDS in Tanzania." Finally, in her suspenseful fictional work, "Chicken Biryani," Pakistan-based writer Raiya Masroor Hashmi captures a day in the life of a riotous land.

In its fifteen years, SAMAR has responded to issues across the spectrum. Topics that our writers have chosen to delve into include access to healthcare, economic class struggles, "model minority" stereotyping, violence against women, the youth movement and LGBTQ-based discrimination. Our articles have also dealt with the exploitation of migrant workers, the state-sponsored pogrom against Muslims in Gujarat, post 9-11 racial profiling, and most recently, the continued struggles against colonial occupations in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine.

As we look forward to the next fifteen years and beyond, we hope that you will continue to join us in an ever-evolving and dynamic conversation on how we can critically and creatively advance issues of social, political, and economic justice, and what these mean to us in a South Asian-specific context. We look forward to hearing about your experiences in building progressive movements in whichever corner of the world you happen to reside, explore or visit. Through learning, we can all become better at resisting the winds that continue to plague our respective communities.

Meanwhile, we want to take a moment and say thank you to our readers, the many generations of collective editorial members that have committed countless volunteer hours to keep this magazine going, and to our writers. It's been a fifteen year journey; it's been a hundred and fifty year journey.

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