Uzma Falak is a DAAD doctoral fellow at the Department of Anthropology, University of Heidelberg. Her work has appeared in The Economic and Political Weekly, Al Jazeera, Warscapes, The Caravan, Himal Southasian, Anthropology and Humanism, The Electronic Intifada, and anthologies like Of Occupation and Resistance, Gossamer: An Anthology of Contemporary World Poetry, among others. Her film ‘Till then the Roads Carry Her’ has been screened at the 2nd Memory Studies Association Conference (University of Copenhagen), The 24th European Conference on South Asian Studies (University of Warsaw), Cine Diaspora (New York), University of Heidelberg, Karlstorkino, Tate Modern, IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival among others.
She was an invited artist-scholar at Warwick’s Tate Exchange, 2018 (Tate Modern, London). Her ethnographic poem ‘Point of Departure’ won an Honourable Mention in the Society for Humanistic Anthropology’s 2017 Ethnographic Poetry Award.
The Indian state’s war-on-many-fronts against the people of Kashmir through its several occupational structures, entails among other things, a stringent regulation of affect, perception management and narrative control. The repetitive brutality and violence engenders unmitigated suffering which destroys language but also ‘writes’ itself through its own unspeakability, even as memory is torn asunder and memorialisation becomes arduous. On Elsewhereness attempts to restore the disrupted itineraries of memory and language without invisibilizing the disruptions and seeks to retrieve the singularity of acts of violence; challenging the state’s regulation of affect by producing and circulating an alternate people’s affect. Through a poetic inquiry based on autoethnography, bricollage and fragmentary narrative form, the text peregrinates between a traveloguesque imagery, an epistolary form, fragmentary memoryscapes, ‘eyewitness’ testimonials, newspaper excerpts, extracts from a physics primer, inventory-like accounts, and other intertextual materials. These textual slivers not only interrupt and are interrupted by each other but they also converse with each other. Through the acts of the text, are explored, the complex meanings of home and elsewhere, belonging and dislocation, unmaking- making of history and memory. The piece attempts to foreground histories which haunt the sanitised spaces of official museums and memorials and dominant history-writing practices. The wayfaring text, including the writing in the margins, engages with the space of writing: the emplacement of words and worlds on ‘paper’. The visuality of the text seeks to foreground both the unspeakability in the face of a repetitive and organised violence and the scream which renders itself possible, making its way through the impossibility and the impassibility, as a limitless war constantly inscribes upon and through us and the work of systematic annihilation goes uninterrupted. It invites and allows for a non-linear reading, which may be disorienting and disrupting – a mimesis of the permanent ‘elsewhere’ in its myriad meanings.
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Falak, Uzma. 2020. On Elsewhereness: Notes from the Road, 2016. HIMALAYA 40(1).
Available at: https://digitalcommons.macalester.edu/himalaya/vol40/iss1/13