For our purposes, let's define a heritage learner* as someone whose family speaks a language at home, living in a society where that language isn't widely spoken. The heritage learner, then, is exposed to the language at some level or another - can understand, maybe speak a little or a lot, but isn't completely literate. S/he then starts learning the language in a formal classroom environment - whether community/religious center, school, or university.
I'm deeply attached to South Asia(n) - at least as attached as one can be to such a nebulous concept. It's something I hadn't really thought about for a while, partly because trying to define South Asia(n) was starting to drive me crazy, but its importance was driven home to me recently by a friend who, before returning to Pakistan, recounted meeting Indians for the first time. Having grown up with the idea of India as The Enemy, he was astonished when he came to the US for college and discovered the similarities between himself and the Indian students he met there, and whom he befriended. This is a story I've heard repeated many times from both sides of the India-Pakistan border, and to me it's one example of many of how valuable and meaningful South Asia(n) can be.
South Asia(n) is, however, also fraught with problems, as we've discussed in these hallowed pages many times. The most glaring of these is Indocentrism, with India standing in for the whole region (see kettikili's particularly brilliant articulation of this here).* There's also the question of how to make the term extend beyond Indo-Pak feel-goodness.
More recently, however, I've encountered a new challenge to making South Asia(n) useful: well-wishers who unwittingly render it completely meaningless. The first instance was a comment by an audience member at the Tamil Studies Conference in Toronto last month, and the second was a mailing from the cable company.
PRESS RELEASE MAY 22 New Delhi
Queer Media Collective
Arguments on the Naz Foundation (India) Trust petition stating that Section 377 IPC discriminates against homosexuality, continued in the Delhi High Court today.
Counsel for the petitioner Anand Grover quoted from the British Wolfendon Committee Report published in 1953, which says that law should not interfere in matters of public morality. He pointed to a particular quote from the report which has been referenced in many several court judgements with regard to public morality, 'There must remain a realm of private morality and immorality which is, in brief and crude terms, not the law's business'.
From the Queer Media Collective:
Final arguments have begun in the Delhi High Court on the petition seeking decriminalisation of homosexuality in India by reading down of Section 377 IPC to exclude private sexual acts between consenting adults.
Hi folks, there are events going on around the US today to mark the one-year anniversary of the detention of Dr. Binayak Sen in Chattisgarh. Sepoy wrote about it last year. Yesterday, twenty-two Nobel Laureates called for his release.
More on him soon. I realize I'm late on posting this, but some of the planned protests haven't yet happened. View them below the fold...
Issue 29: Our Rights, Our Stories
Check out the latest in SAMAR Magazine
http://www.samarmagazine.org/ May 13, 2008
** Svati Shah explores anti-trafficking laws through the recent walk out by South Asian migrant shipyard workers in Mississippi
** Two pieces explore strategies for storytelling. Linta Varghese reviews a theatre performance put together by low wage workers from the organization Andolan in New York City. And stories from Aakash Kishore and Alicia Virani were written in a writing workshop by Satrang in Los Angeles for members of the LGBTIQQ South Asian community
** Nadine Murshid questions how a rape and murder is still not tried in court in Bangladesh even though there are laws to prosecute such cases
** S.P. Arun sees an alarming trend of detaining human rights activists in India; the recent case of Dr. Sen is being countered with worldwide vigils this week
** Plus, fiction by Sharmila Mukerjee that is a Tale of an Indian Lesbian
**And, the latest political cartoon by Khalil Bendib
There's a new online petition appealing to members of local Hindu Students Council (HSC) chapters to disassociate themselves from the organization because of the central HSC's association with the politics of the Hindu Right (See report by Campaign to Stop Funding Hate ).
The text of the petition is below the fold. Here are our previous posts relating to the Hindu Students Council:
The University of Wisconsin-Madison offers a few South Asian languages in its South Asian Summer Language Institute (SASLI). I took the elementary Tamil course in 2002, and strongly recommend it - whether you're a "heritage student" like me (been exposed to the language but not necessarily literate) or not.
The summer session this year runs from June 16 to August 8, and the following languages will be offered. The deadline has passed, but it's my understanding that they're still accepting applications.