ACME Lecture Series: Beyond the Colonial Enclaves: Scouting for New Writing in the Neglected Regional Languages of Pakistan

Presented by Professor Waqas Khwaja




Date: Thursday, October 18, 2018 

Time: 1:00 p.m -1:50 p.m

Evans Dining Hall, Terrace Level

English-language writers represent a miniscule percentage of the population in postcolonial countries like Pakistan and India. But their influence is hugely disproportionate to their numbers. Local language writers are often totally ignored or marginalized. However, an increasing number of postcolonial critics and academics are redefining the field in more inclusive terms. To make this transition, texts from indigenous languages must be made available to scholars and students in the field. Paradoxically, the first step in making this possible is to provide quality translations of works from the local languages. Last summer I visited Pakistan to collect poetry and short fiction in its regional languages (Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, and Baluchi) and to seek permissions from writers to translate their work for publication. I also availed myself of the opportunity to create greater awareness about the need for translations, identify potential translators and invite them to contribute to the project of making this literature available to a wider global audience. I will share a brief description of the nature and tenor of the writings collected and the difficulties and delights of finding my way to the writers and their work.