The Polis Project brings together Research, Reportage and Resistance to produce and give visibility to bodies of work that have a direct impact on public discourse. We are a collective of scholars, artists, activists whose practice aims at having an impact beyond the sphere of specialized discussions. Our interests focus around issues of violence, occupation, post-colony, self-determination and the future trajectories of war. By making public interventions and opening a public space of debate and dissent, our hope is to nurture and cultivate intellectual, artistic and political resistance.
Based on a commonality of ideals and committment, the collective has different souls and plays multiple roles – as artists, scholars, and activists we produce and publish research, commentary and analysis on issues of war, conflict, militarization and transformation of occupied spaces. This analysis takes a variety of forms such as lectures, teach-in, essays, exhibitions, podcasts/video casts and visual essays.
We are currently working on various projects including our lecture series Dissent in Dangerous Times; an open source database on Political violence and its effects on justice, and a symposium on Decolonizing Photography.
Suchitra Vijayan is a writer, photographer, lawyer, political essayist, and a lecturer. She studied Law, Political Science and International Relations, and was trained as a Barrister-at-Law and called to Bar at the Honourable Society of Inner Temple. Her work looks at theories of violence, war and human nature. She writes about war, conflict, foreign policy, politics, literature and photography. Her columns appear regularly in The Hindu and Warscapes Magazine. She has written for GQ, The Telegraph, and Foreign Policy amongst other publications. As an attorney previously worked for the United Nations war crimes tribunal for Yugoslavia and Rwanda. She co-founded and was the Legal Director of Resettlement Legal Aid Project, Cairo that gave legal aid for Iraqi refugee. As a graduate student at Yale, she was researching and documenting stories along the contentious Durand Line. She was embedded with the ISAF forces – 172 infantry brigade, in Paktika Province, Afghanistan conducting research on the counterinsurgency practices in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, which became her graduating thesis and the basis of the first book, Borderlands that looks at the making of political borders in South Asia. She is the founder of The Polis Project.
Francesca Recchia is an independent researcher and writer. She is interested in the geopolitical dimension of cultural processes and in recent years has focused her research on urban transformations, creative practices and intangible heritage in countries in conflict. Her work is grounded on an interdisciplinary approach that combines Urban, Visual and Cultural Studies. Francesca was a Research Associate at the Centre of South Asian Studies. SOAS, London, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Bartlett School of Planning, University College of London, has a PhD in Cultural Studies at the Oriental Institute in Naples and a Masters in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She is now a Visiting Lecturer at Università Bocconi in Milan. She is the author of three books: The Little Book of Kabul (with Lorenzo Tugnoli), Picnic in a Minefield and Devices of Political Action. Collective Towns in Iraqi Kurdistan (with a photo-essay by Leo Novel)She was the director of the 4th Afghan Contemporary Art Prize in Kabul and of Caravanserai -Kabul in Karachi.
Asim Rafiqui is an independent photojournalist whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Time, Harper’s, Stern, National Geographic (France) and many other publications. Asim has reported from Haiti, Japan, India, Pakistan, USA, Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine, Sweden and Ukraine among other places. Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, he moved to New York in 1984 to study engineering at Columbia University and has since lived, at various times, in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Lahore, London, Munich, Bangkok, Stockholm and Kigali. Asim was a Fulbright Fellow and an Aftermath Grant awardee to India, where he worked on the “Idea of India” project documenting India’s heritage of cultural and religious pluralism and syncretism. He was awarded an Open Society Fellowship in 2012 for his most recent long-term project in Pakistan. Asim is using a variety of media to present a more nuanced and personal perspective on the issue of access to justice in Pakistan. By focusing on the plight of some of Pakistan’s most marginalised communities, he highlights the structural roots of the pervasive injustice that afflicts their lives and the failure of the current legal apparatus to resolve them. Asim also received a Pulitzer Centre for Crisis Reporting grant to document the impact of the Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip on its residents. In 2015 Asim received the Magnum EF Grant for his work on the missing and disappeared in Baluchistan and the role of the Pakistani State. He authors the photography and politics blog “The Spinning Head”. He is based in Stockholm, Sweden ‘Asim is currently studying for his MA at Goldsmiths College, University of London.
Vasundhara Sirnate Drennan
Vasundhara Sirnate Drennan is a political scientist and journalist. She is a Non-Resident Fellow with the Atlantic Council, Washington DC and has previously worked as the Chief Coordinator of Research at The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy in Chennai. Her research areas include counterinsurgency in South Asia, insurgent group dynamics in India, gender justice and societal violence.
Warscapes is an independent online magazine that provides a lens into current conflicts across the world. Warscapes publishes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, interviews, book and film reviews, photo-essays and retrospectives of war literature from the past fifty years. Warscapes is motivated by a need to move past a void within mainstream culture in the depiction of people and places experiencing staggering violence, and the literature they produce. Apart from showcasing great writing from war-torn areas, the magazine is a tool for understanding complex political crises in various regions and serves as an alternative to compromised representations of those issues.
Critical Kashmir Studies
Critical Kashmir Studies (CKS) features exciting new scholarship from the humanities and social sciences that challenge conventional models of writing and thinking about Kashmir. CKS provides a unique source of insight and critical analysis that aims to combine scholarship and advocacy on the region of Kashmir.Kashmir today is undergoing a critical period that calls out for fresh engagement, as the turbulent cycle of insurgency and counter-insurgency, prevalent throughout the 1990s, has transformed. New phases of the longstanding struggle for azaadi, or freedom, have emerged. For Kashmiri communities on both sides of the Line of Control, these dynamics are opening some spaces for the emergence of new forms of identity and imagination, memory and aspiration, homeland and belonging, and protest and resistance. Our scholars are committed to serve as a bridge between scholarship and activism.
Our “Yodas” – the wise ones who guide us.
David Palumbo-Liu’s fields of interest include social and cultural criticism, literary theory and criticism, and studies in race and ethnicity. His most recent book, The Deliverance of Others: Reading Literature in a Global Age (Duke, 2012) addresses the role of contemporary humanistic literature with regard to the instruments and discourses of globalization, seeking to discover modes of affiliation and transnational ethical thinking; he is also co-editor with Bruce Robbins and Nirvana Tanoukhi of Immanuel Wallerstein and the Problem of the World: System, Scale, Culture (Duke, 2011). Palumbo-Liu is most interested in issues regarding social theory, community, race and ethnicity, human rights, globalization, ecology, and the specific role that literature and the humanities play in helping us address each of these areas.
With Prof. James Cavallaro of Stanford Law School he started the interactive human rights website, Teaching Human Rights: An International Student-Teacher Collaboratory, which currently lists over sixty collaborators from around the world including NGOs, combined classrooms in Europe, and other participants.
David Palumbo-Liu is the founding editor of Occasion: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities (found on Arcade);his writings have appeared in Truthout, The Nation, Jacobin, The Boston Review, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Vox, Salon, AlterNet, and other venues. He is also a Contributing Editor for the Los Angeles Review of Books. He serves on the Executive Council of the Modern Language Association, the HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science & Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) Advisory Committee, and the Academic Steering and Advocacy Committee of the Open Library of the Humanities. He was recently elected Second Vice President of the American Comparative Literature Association, and will assume the presidency March 2018. He is a former Chair of the Stanford Faculty Senate.
Please visit his web site for more information, essays, blogs, events: http://www.palumbo-liu.com