Literature is a growing and evolving organism that responds to circumstances of history, politics and social dynamics. These thoughts were expressed by participants of an international conference that began here on Wednesday.
The three-day conference on “Literary Present and the Post-Colonial Condition in South Asia” is being held by the International Islamic University Islamabad in collaboration with the Higher Education Commission.
The first day of the conference analysed how literature has responded to the colonial and post-colonial shifts, South Asian migrants in the developing world, the impact of globalisation on cultural identity and the implications of 9/11.
The event called for submissions of papers and presentations from the world over on wide-ranging literary topics.
“This event is an opportunity for students and academics alike to explore how our literature is shaped. It is an opportunity to understand the mechanisms of literature at a national, regional and global level,” said IIUI Assistant Professor Abid Mehboob.
He added that the wide-ranging topics and sessions taking place in the three days address and analyse the issues at hand while letting individuals relate to each topic comparatively.
Books such as Jean Baudrillard’s “The Spirit of Terrorism”, Mohsin Hamid’s “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”, John Updike’s “Terrorist”, and Anna Perera’s “The Guanatanamo Boy” were taken as examples of how the persona of the ‘jihadist’ has become the focus of theoretical and literary explorations in the post-9/11 landscape.
One of the predominant topics of discussion was the transition of colonialised countries from their native languages to English.
“Though studying English literature is important, we have to stay true to our own literature as well and do a comparative analysis to be productive,” said Humaira, a student of IIUI.
She added that a strong grasp on English can aid academics in advancing Urdu literature by translating Urdu works in English, as Tahira Naqvi did for Ismat Chughtai and Victor Kierman did for Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poetry.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2012.