Subversion / Sub-version

This monsoon issue of Yendai examines ways of imagining contestations. The idea of taking up subversion as the theme of Yendai had come up on earlier occasions and unfortunately addressing it seems to be topical given the circumstances we currently find ourselves in. Even as we agree on the theme, our approach and ways of understanding subversion differ. We approach it through two ways. First, we see sub-version as acts and practices that challenge the status quo. Second, related to the former, are the ways in which such practices become productive of new manifestations and cultures that may ironically become hegemonic in themselves and invite subversion. Acts of subversions calls for imagining new aesthetics and sensibilities through the questioning of hierarchical practices of hegemonic cultural domination. The present issue is devoted to the possibility of capturing resisting narratives that emerge in such contested fault lines. Subversions are attempts to check the deliberate acts of forgetting put in place through singular meta-narratives and violent repressions of truth. The metaphor of a palimpsest encapsulates the idea of subversion/sub-versions with the hope of reading meaning in acts of over writing and re-writing in the scrolls of time. It is used to explore the many layered existence of a cultural form and not solely the act of writing. In this edition of Yendai, we bring four poems, two visual works, two short stories and four essays on this theme.

Moving away from the glorification of homes and nostalgia Amorette Grace Lyngwa describes belongingness and aspirations of being middleclass through practices of material consumption. Theyiesinuo Keditsu looks at myth making and the creation of a new God replacing erstwhile beliefs. In his characteristic black humour, Thangjam Ibopishak’s poem is a conversation between unknown men and the poet regarding which part of the body the poet would prefer to be shot at, blurring the distinction between the literal and the metaphoric. The last poem in this section ‘Mini India’ is a striking commentary of our times, yet not devoid of hope.

Maniza’s photographs capture facets of domestic space of solidarity in the city. Lal Poster’s set of visuals highlight the panopticon gaze, revolution on hire and wilful invisibilisation of women’s labour.

In her short story ‘Melting Heart’, Juri Baruah explores how the state’s project of authenticating citizenship brings to fore the fraught question of identity. Satyabati Ningombam’s ‘Thunderbolt from the Dark Clouds’ underscore how hope generated by a single act upsets the balance of hegemonic harmonies.

Rubani Yumkhaibam analyses the nupi maanbi thabal as an expression of solidarity that inscribes new forms of non-normative identity which questions the hetero-normative culture of thabal chongba. Devansh Srivastava takes up the question of representation of ‘northeast’ in mainstream media. In the context of Gorkhaland, Rahul Ganguly’s essay examines the multiple meanings and memories of landscapes especially in the context of the movement for homelands and its possibility to mirror forces that it resists. Last but not the least Debanjali Biswas’s narrative poignantly juxtaposes the mandap and the everyday in Manipur, the former where the licit-illicit play of the Gods are performed as raas lila and the latter wherein the legitimate-illegitimate play of the state manifests in violent deaths.