Insurgent Tongues

In a time of rising authoritarian leaderships around the globe, dismantling the myriad languages of domination—from explicit militarized lexicons to insidious vestiges of colonialism—is vital. The Insurgent Tongues folio interrogates the insurgent nature of language and languages of (counter)insurgency while working to unsettle the absoluteness of power in all forms. Organized into three sections, the folio explores linguistic multiplicity and complicity, the role of contextualized time and space, and the ever-present relationship between the personal and the political.

Accompanying each piece of writing in the folio is an artwork by Sa’dia Rehman. Sa’dia is a Queens-born multidisciplinary artist who draws upon the self as shaped by homes in post-Gulf War New Jersey, pre&post- 9/11 New York City, and the Trump-era Midwest. Sa’dia grew up in a family, neighborhood and world where languages weaved into one another: Urdu, Hindko, Pashto, Punjabi, Bangla, Hindi, Spanish, Greek, Italian, English. This collage of language is reflected in her visual use of material. Through multiple medias that include works on paper, assemblages, and wall drawings, Sa’dia grapples with the constraints and possibilities of self and collective making as well as issues of representation, war, power, race, and gender centered on the family unit.

Even the Persians are now Showing Signs of Demanding a Constitutional Government, 2019, velvet, Islamic prayer mats, artist’s and artist’s sister’s jeans on gessoed drop cloth, 90 x 59 inches. Photo credit to Grace E. Bowen

The young author from West Timor who writes dark, deeply irreverent prose that reflects on Suharto-era violence speaks with Lara Norgaard about the figure of storyteller, the role of humor in discussing state violence, and Javanese hegemony in Indonesian historical narratives.

A headline buried deep inside the paper catches my eye. “They’re extending AFSPA for another six months in Assam,” I announce. She nods, and continues to massage the green beans in her bowl.

paperless people / of the earth say,
/ “this place is mine, / can you not see we birthed it?”

perhaps, every day is always a ‘perhaps’, a ‘maybe’, for queer people in Indonesia, since every day is a fight, a faith, a hope

我忽然屏息 / 是風吹開妳襯衫 / 一顆煙彈正微微露餡 || as if with prophecy / wind peels back your shirt / a teargas gives away its shape

no tiene otra ley que / su mismo cuerpo feliz || with no law other than / his own joyous body

Mishima’s Patriotism reveals the drives operating behind political movements and how ultranationalistic ideas become deeply entangled in the personal

One of the challenges in this novel was to figure out a way in which time can be manipulated the way it’s so interestingly manipulated in film.

사람들을 따라갈수록 나는 거짓말이 되어가. || The more I follow people the more I become a lie

When the streets are stained sea blue, they are graven in time

น้ำลายเฟ้อเต็มปากสำรากมนต์ / กลิ่นคละคลุ้งฝูงคนนะจังงัง || Spewing out its gibberish chants / Luring people into rhetorical trance

api tak sempat bertanya: apakah kata-kata bisa / terbakar? || fire didn’t have the chance to ask: can words / burn down?

It is a school for the children with no tongues who were born to tongueless mothers. The school teaches only one subject: patience. “Patience is the greatest virtue in life,” say the fathers who can speak.

不要以為 / 八八十月 過了還會回來 / 除非有十一月 || don’t assume that / October ‘88 will ever return / except in November

It’s not the bullet that makes you bolt, / but the very words /
emerging from the muzzle’s restraint / the classroom in disguise

How does violence blossom // What’s known must be made unknown

Is every english word I pull from my mouth a child screaming / over the soft chants of ma and nanni ma?

a land mistaken for a people is a people / objectified as spoils of the land

I forced myself to tell her to accept it and think of it as entering into a new theater. Turn it into raw material and endure to write about it.

/ Pərˈ(h)aps / preceding us, one ballad to each tongue,
oh, / ‘absəˌlōō(y)tlē /, we refrained from singing

& if the speaker does not know that this language is faulty, then the speaker has been secretly muzzled

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