Now Published · IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies: Volume 9 – Issue 1

IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies: Volume 9 – Issue 1
Editor-in-Chief: Holger Briel, Beijing Normal University-Hong Kong Baptist University United International College (UIC), China
Published: July 5, 2024
ISSN: 2187-4905

'Publishing cutting-edge cultural research since 2016'

Dear Readers,

Ever since the end of Covid, the hope of the world for a return to an allegedly stable pre-Covid-19 time has been thwarted. Most of the world continues to be mesmerized by the horrible wars continuing in the Ukraine, in Sudan, and in Gaza. As the carnage continues unabated, one might be tempted to dismiss any and all attempts at cultural interventions as misguided and useless. With many, an uneasy assessment of priorities has taken place, especially so in the face of Russian aggression, and has created an atmosphere where pacifism or non-engagement have become “bad” words. And if such long-held beliefs are being radically challenged, one might ask, what can lowly culture do to change things?

We dare to continue to speak about artistic and cultural themes here in the pages of the IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies. We are aware of the hard times facing many humans on our planet today, we think of them with empathy and acknowledge their plight. We do not know what good the following texts will do, but we know that they should be published, seen and thought about as they, among the many other cultural and artistic interventions made, represent, despite everything, an important way in which to change the world.

Volume 9 – Issue 1

The issue at hand is a decidedly Asian issue, with articles covering Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and China. While encompassing a huge landmass, with billions of people from different cultures, it is interesting to see how people in Asia are struggling with similar issues in their lives – post-colonisation, exclusion for mainstream society, issues of war and peace, and of globalisation. Their voices are voices from the subaltern, and it is high time that more of these can be heard.

Article 1

Naeema Arch’ad’s article “The Culture of Qalandar Pakhivas Community of Lahore: A Case of Marginalisation” discusses artistic production and cultural heritage conservation efforts among a minority in Pakistan, the Qalandar Pakhivas, a subgroup of a larger ethnic minority in Pakistan and India. They grapple with their own, oftentimes rigid understanding of their heritage and practice, at times at odds with the surrounding majority of Pakistanis, at times at odds with changing moral codes at large.

Article 2

A similar situation exists in Rajmoni Singha’s “Traditional productions and neo-liberal market challenges for cultural identities: A study of Manipuri Indigenous weavers in Bangladesh”. Once again, it is a minority, this time in Bangladesh, which is caught out by the intensifying industrialisation of weaving and cloth making, something that had been a Manipuri cultural mainstay and an important tool for differentiating themselves from others synchronically and diachronically. This difference is now being severely challenged, also leading up to communal self-doubt. Singha charts these movements and provides suggestions for keeping their cultural heritage alive by creating multiple perspectives for the survival of this minority.

Article 3

Staying in South Asia, Sayant Vijay and Anupama Nayar’s “Memorialisation and Identity in Mahé, India: Revealing French Colonial Legacies” looks at the spectres of French post-colonialism in Mahé, India. In interviews with French-Indians living in the part of India that had been a French colony until the early 1950s, they find a surprising amount of praise for the erstwhile colonisers. Many of the rituals belonging to French culture, such as the structuring of the calendar through religious festivals and a melange of cultural festivals, have continued to keep French culture alive. If much of this praise is associated with advantages gained from their French Connection – such as French citizenship – it is nevertheless astounding how in many citizens’ imagination and nostalgia, the more sinister facets of colonialism have been swept under the rug, so to speak.

Article 4

Moving on to Sri Lanka, T. Jenisha and P. Boopathi discuss the continuing fallout of the civil war having raged for several decades. Recently, the horrors of this war have already received an amazing voice in Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka’s furious tour-de-force The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida (2022) which deservedly won the Booker Prize of the same year. Now, T. Jenisha and P. Boopathi discuss the war via the memoir In the Shadow of a Sword by Thamizhini, a female LTTE fighter. Their article, entitled “Gender, Identity and Conflict: Militant Women and Feminist Assertion in In the Shadow of a Sword: The Memoir of a Woman Leader in the LTTE by Thamizhini” discusses the war fallout experienced by one of its female fighters from the losing side. It makes it clear that far from being an egalitarian struggle, women were supressed by the LTTE and mostly marginalised. What is worse, this suppression continues today, after the war has ended, and it continues to haunt not only Sri Lankan society at large, but many individual women’s lives under the conditions of “peace”.

Article 5

Lastly, Yi Zhou’s ‘Product Placement in Films: A Comparative Study of American and Chinese Consumers’ Attitudes’ moves the discussion to China. In here text, she compares US and Chinese attitudes toward product placement in films. Using interviews, she is able to identify two very different ways of reacting to product placements: on the one hand, a North American laissez-faire one, and another that (still) rejects most of the attempts to manipulate consumer behaviour via entertainment film and TV shows. Given that Chinese TV history has been a much shorter than their US’s counterpart, one wonders whether this rejection of an enforced consumer culture is something that will disappear in the future or whether it is here to stay?

Do enjoy this issue!

Holger Briel
May 2024

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