"Rethinking Modernisms from Postcolonial Indian Periodicals" Modernist Print Cultures of the South : A Workshop on Methods and Archives

Intervenant : Laetitia Zecchini

University of Adelaïde
Ingkarni Wardli L7 Conference Room, North Terrace Campus, The University of Adelaide
(and online)

Building on work conducted on long-neglected periodicals, such as the anti-establishment little magazines of the 60s, many published from Bombay, and the journals sponsored by the US-backed liberal ‘front’ during the Cold War – some of which became forums for dissent or critique, and also cleared a space for modernism – I argue that modernisms in the Global South were both crucially mediated and (re)invented through the print medium. These ‘archives of minority’, as I have defined these periodicals help us reconsider modernism in different ways. First, and looking at their intertextual, often artisanal practices of collages or assemblages of texts and quotations, I would like to examine the ‘scissors-and-paste modernism’ they illustrate, which may help us reconsider modernism within a global paradigm of recycling. Second, and looking at the multifarious ‘littleness’ of these periodicals (including in the ‘little forms’ they privileged, i.e. the poems, excerpts, quotations, reviews), I wish to show how modernism in the Global South is inseparable from the paradigm of minority – but a minority less understood as predicament, than as ‘resource’ (Leela Gandhi in another context). Third, modernism in the Global South is necessarily politicized, and cannot be separated from postcolonial, decolonial and Cold War struggles. Modernism, as I will try to show, was necessarily a fraught and contested terrain in India. The Cold War, for instance, was also a period when (a certain kind of) modernism was globalized and weaponized, and when many Indian writers and artists struggled to hone a modernism of one’s own. Postcolonial periodicals represent a fascinating archive to explore these struggles.

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