This team blog is a collaborative practice of radical political and media critique, and an engagement with the present.
Kafila – a Hindi word derived from Arabic, it means a caravan, a procession or a collectivity in travel. It could be a kafila of a nomadic group, a pack, a procession, a parade or simply the most pervasive yet unacknowledged figure of the modern world – the refugee/s in all its forms – including development refugees: people rendered homeless and placeless by capitalism and the relentless modern drive of mapping, accounting, categorizing and normalizing – in short, defining a place and a norm for every one and everything, which leaves most people without place.
Kafila is a team effort of concerned individuals – scholars, activists, writers, journalists – to create a space for critical engagement on a wide range of issues of the contemporary world.
The effort arises from the recognition that the space of critical public discourse has been so completely colonized by the corporate media that dissenting voices rarely, if ever find any sustained reflection there. Contemporary corporate media (TV channels, newspaper corporations, web portals) today are firmly part of the business elite, and shares that elite’s close relationship to power.
Kafila arises from a recognition that in the contemporary world, all knowledge and information is ‘mediatised’. We inhabit a media ecology: the only way of creating critical spaces is through connecting various radical and critical media practices and forms. We could say that the only answer to media empires today is “becoming media” ourselves, connecting different forms – the internet, print (non-corporatised small magazines and journals), political media forms like posters, leaflets – into a whole parallel network of information and knowledge production and exchange (as opposed to ‘dissemination’).
We at Kafila also believe that this is only possible if we also combine these critical media practices with sustained, theoretical reflection, which steps back from the immediacy of the moment. Through this activity we hope to facilitate critical public engagement with contemporary issues that we consider essential for radicalising democracy.
The idea of the kafila/ karavaan as we envisage it, then, is best rendered in this well-known couplet by Majrooh Sultanpuri:
Main akela hi chalaa tha jaanib-e-manzil magar
Log saath aate gaye… karavaan banta gaya
[Alone I was when I started towards my destination, but
People kept coming along, the caravan kept growing]
We invite you to join in our conversations.
The views expressed by us on Kafila are our own and are not necessarily shared by the organisations we are associated with. There is no particular Kafila line on any subject, as we are not a political party, NGO or corporation. We do not have a CEO, spokesperson or editor. The views expressed by Kafila‘s authors are their own and not that of all of Kafila or all its authors. Similarly, the views expressed in a guest post are that of the guest writer only and may or may not be shared by the Kafila author who has published the guest post.
Kafila is not an organisation, a media house, an NGO or a corporation. We’re just a blog. We have received many queries about regular writing arrangements, jobs and internships, and some have sent CVs. We would like to clarify that we have no jobs or internships to offer.
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Aarti Sethi has worked with the Sarai programme, CSDS. Her interests include south asian history, urban culture and politics, the social life of media. She is currently enrolled in a Ph.D programme in anthropology at Columbia University. aarti dot sethi at gmail dot com
Aditya Nigam works with the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi, and is interested in cultural politics and the non-western experiences of modernity and power. He is in search of a new, multi-coloured Left, Red having become monochromatic grey… aditya at kafila dot org
Ahilan Kadirgamar is a democracy activist and a political economy researcher based in Jaffna, Sri Lanka.
Aman Sethi covers Africa for The Hindu.
Apoorvanand teaches Hindi at Delhi University. apoorvanand at kafila dot org
Danish Husain is a dastango, an actor and at times unsuccessfully attempts writing poetry. He lives in Delhi but thinks as if he is in Mumbai. dan dot ayyar at gmail dot com
Gautam Bhan writes and works on urban systems, particularly on issues of equity, displacement/resettlement, and inequality within cities and their metaphors. His other main preoccupation is activism and theorising on sexuality in general, and the rights and lives of gay, lesbian, transgendered communities in particular. gautam dot bhan at gmail dot com
J Devika works at Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum, Kerala. Her writing has been mostly about gender, social reform, politics, and development in Kerala. devumol at gmail dot com
Lawrence Liang is a co-founder of the Alternative Law Forum (ALF), Bangalore, India, a collective of lawyers who engage with issues of law, legality and power. His key areas of interest are law, technology and culture, and the politics of copyright. He has been working closely with SARAI, New Delhi on a joint research project on Intellectual Property and the Knowledge/Culture Commons. lawrence at altlawforum dot org
Mahmood Farooqui is a Delhi based freelance writer and performer. He dabbles in several things to the dissatisfaction of many and works as a Fellow at Sarai when he is not performing Dastans or worshipping Bholenath. mahmood dot farooqui at gmail dot com
Mukul Sharma has been a journalist, a writer, a human rights activist and a development professional. He has worked with Navbharat Times, Amnesty International, ActionAid International, Mahidol University , AIDS Society for Asia and the Pacific, World Social Forum and others. He is presently working with LEAD (Leadership on Environment and Development) – India (www.leadindia.org, www.lead.org). mukul1961 at yahoo dot co dot in
Nivedita Menon teaches Politics at School of International Studies, JNU, Delhi. She’s a feminist activist, writer, and translator largely from Hindi into English, (but has once or twice had the temerity to dabble in translating Malayalam into English); with a history of involvement in citizens’ interventions on a range of issues – secularism, workers’ and women’s rights, sexuality, and opposition to the nuclear programme (yes, even for “peaceful purposes”).
Ponni Arasu is an activist, researcher and theatre practitioner, presently pursuing a PhD on the history of Tamilnadu from a feminist perspective.
Prashant Jha is a journalist with The Hindu in New Delhi. He was earlier based in Kathmandu, and has extensively covered Nepal’s political transition
Ravi Sundaram was born in Bangalore but now lives and works in Delhi. He is interested in critical ideas, urban experiences and life after media. Also that of life – that does not often qualify as ‘politics’.
Ravikant is a Fellow with the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.
Shivam Vij is a writer and journalist based in Delhi.
Shuddhabrata Sengupta is a media practitioner, artist and writer with the Raqs Media Collective. shuddha at sarai dot net
Sohail Hashmi is Delhi based, has worked in the media, walks in the unreserved forests and unprotected ruins of Delhi regularly, writes irregularly. Loves to cook and eat. sohailhashmi at gmail dot com
Subhash Gatade is an activist of the revolutionary left movement, associated with the Hindi journal ‘Sandhan’, writes regularly for Hindi and English publications.
Sunalini Kumar teaches in the political science department at Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi, and works occasionally on her PhD.
Zainab Bawa is currently pursing her Ph.D. at the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society on economic and political networks in Bangalore and Mumbai. She has been a researcher with Sarai and has done ethnographic research on spaces in Mumbai. zainabbawa at yahoo dot com
The Kafila header was designed by Amitabh Kumar.
This page was last updated on 28 August 2011.