English Homework Help

Format: Times New Roman, 12″ font, double spaced, saved as word document
Length: 800 words (be concise!)
This paper will require you to conduct independent research and then analyze what you researched in terms of course material (Lesson 11a/b/c). For the case, research and write about each of the following:
· Describe the organization: its history, community (the people it serves), and objectives
· Describe the selected cause: its history in relation to South Asians in the U.S.
· Analyze the organization’s political strategy: discuss the different approaches to advocacy, solidarity with other groups (reference Richman and other sources)
· Bonus points for incorporating course concepts, such as colonialism, immigration policy, multiculturalism, diaspora, into the paper.
Citations:
· Cite at least 4 sources (1 from course readings, such as Richman, 3 from outside of class – articles listed on the previous page). You are not required to seek out additional materials (not listed on previous page).
· Make a references list at end of paper. Use this guide: https://www.americananthro.org/StayInformed/Content.aspx?ItemNumber=2044 (Links to an external site.)
(Use the “Online Resources” guide for newspaper articles and any articles/blogs on organization’s website)
· For publications with no easily identifiable author(s), you may cite the organization name that published it. For instance, for the Case #4 Report on Desis Rising Up and Moving, “Building Power and Safety through Solidarity” you should cite it as (DRUM 2020).
· Do NOT use block quotes. Block quote are 4 lines of quote or longer.
· Do not cite lectures
Main paper uploaded to the sweetstudy.
Case: Adhikaar – fight for TPS
Organization website: https://adhikaar.org/ (link to organization’s website) (Links to an external site.)
Background on TPS: American Immigration Council (link to article) (Links to an external site.), Nepali Times (link to article) (Links to an external site.)
Adhikaar action on TPS: Research Report on TPS (link to pdf report)Download Research Report on TPS (link to pdf report), Feb 23, 2021 press release (link to website) (Links to an external site.), November 16, 2019 Press Release (link to website) (Links to an external site.), March 6, 2019 Statement (link to website) (Links to an external site.), TPS Caribbean-Himalayan Alliance (link to article) (Links to an external site.)
Background on Adhikaar’s neighborhood: People’s Walking tour of Jackson Heights (link to website) (Links to an external site.) (Queens, NY)
News stories on Adhikaar: Nepali Times (link to article) (Links to an external site.), New York Times (link to article) (Links to an external site.), Al Jazeera (link to article) (Links to an external site.)
essayHelp
ATTACHED FILE(S)
A Diaspora Ramayana in Southall
Paula Richman
Editor’s note: The Ramayana is one of Hinduism’s oldest and best-
loved epic stories. It probably began even as early as 500 bce as an
oral story, but over the centuries has been retold, rewritten, tele-
vised, and acted out (theatrical versions are called Ramlila) in many
different languages in many different versions. Richman’s article
presents us with one such version, what might be called a “postco-
lonial” version. The story, in briefest synopsis, goes something like
this: The king of Ayodhya is childless, but makes a sacrifice from
which are born three sons, each to a different wife. Rama is the eldest.
Because of jealousy and strife in the palace, Rama’s brother Bharata
is named king upon their father’s death, and Rama—the rightful
heir to the throne—is sent into a fourteen-year exile. With him go
his wife, Sita, and his loyal youngest brother, Lakshmana. While in
exile, Rama defeats and banishes many evil creatures. Finally, with
the aid of his monkey friend Hanuman, Rama vanquishes even the
evil Ravana, a many-headed demon king who would wreak havoc
in the universe and who has lusted after and finally kidnapped Sita.
Having saved the kingdom and Sita from the demons, and having
lived out his exile, Rama returns triumphantly to Ayodhya, where
he reigns as a just and dharmic king. In a controversial episode, not
part of all versions, Rama fears that Sita’s chastity and purity may
have been sullied by Ravana. Doubting Sita, unjustly, he allows her
to jump into a fire. But she emerges unscathed—so pure is she—and
they rule together as king and queen.
A longer version of this essay originally appeared in the Journal of the American Academy of
Religion 67, no. 1 (Winter 1999). Reprinted with permission.
31
Everyday Life in South Asia, edited by Diane P. Mines, and Sarah Lamb, Indiana University Press, 2010. ProQuest Ebook
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A Diaspora Ramayana in Southall/ 437
What happens when the Ramlila travels abroad? On 19 October 1979, a
feminist group of South Asian and African Caribbean women in Southall,
Greater London, staged a Ramlila that reflects a precise moment in the his-
tory of South Asian immigration to the United Kingdom. The women who
produced the play, members of the Southall Black Sisters (SBS),1 did so to
help defray legal costs of friends arrested when they participated in a protest
against the neo-Nazi National Front Party. SBS incorporated into their rendi-
tion of the Ramlila humorous commentary with a topical slant. In doing so,
they linked events portrayed in the performance to the racism, labor condi-
tions, electoral politics, and sexism they encountered in everyday life.
Like traditional Ramlilas, the performance ended with the death of Ra va-
na, king of the Demons, but the SBS Ravana was unique. He sported a huge
mask composed of ten heads, upon each of which was drawn a person or
symbol that represented an aspect of immigrant life in Britain. Some heads
bore pictures of conservative political leaders, while others carried symbols
of racism, such as the insignia of the British riot police. The Ramlila perfor-
mance culminated with fireworks to celebrate the destruction of Ravana,
to the accompaniment of cheers from the audience. The Ramlila’s dramatic
structure, casting practices, and interpretation of Ravana tell us a great deal
about the historical moment of its performance.
They also reveal some broader insights about how a religious text can mi-
grate from South Asia to Britain, retain its formal contours, express diverse
aspects of the diaspora experience, and continue to be part of the multifac-
eted Ramayana tradition. SBS produced a Ramlila of great creativity, reflect-
ing in unique ways the specific experiences of those onstage and many of
those in the audience, but it also contains elements that are in consonance
with what recent scholarship has revealed about the Ramayana tradition in
South Asia. In SBS’s incorporation of women’s perspectives, it echoes aspects
of women’s folk-song traditions in South Asia (Narayana Rao 1991; Nilsson
2000). Its inclusion of topical humor is part of a long tradition of linking im-
provisatory commentary to local events (e.g., Blackburn 1996; GoldbergBelle
1989). Its skillful use of multiple frames enables characters to provide meta-
narrative about themselves and the story (Hess 1993, 2000; Shulman 2000).
In short, the SBS created a Ramlila in keeping with long-established trends
within Ramayana tradition.
In the past, Western and Indian scholars have paid most attention to au-
thoritative tellings of Ramkatha (Rama’s story), especially the one attributed
to Valmiki (Goldman 1984: 1, 6; Pollock 1993: 263). More recently, however,
scholars have increasingly turned their attention to oral renditions (Black-
burn 1996), commentarial concerns (Hess 2000), and transformations shaped
by print culture (Narayana Rao 2000). Such studies have demonstrated the
range, diversity, and vitality of nondominant tellings of Ramkatha. A close
examination of the SBS Ramlila reveals a great deal about the capaciousness
Everyday Life in South Asia, edited by Diane P. Mines, and Sarah Lamb, Indiana University Press, 2010. ProQuest Ebook
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438 / Globalization, Public Culture, and the South Asian Diaspora
of the Ramayana tradition: the SBS has recounted and recast the story in re-
lation to their locality, its social structures of dominance, and their concerns
about gender.
Recent research has highlighted how many tellings of Rama’s story ques-
tion hierarchies of power (e.g., Freeman 2000; Lutgendorf 2000; Richman
1991; R. Lamb 1991). Interrogation of gendered representation proves par-
ticularly salient in the SBS Ramlila. Unique in its casting practices, its mix of
Punjabi and English, and its vision of Ravana, the SBS Ramlila lies squarely
in the midst of a Ramayana tradition that is diverse, inventive, and open to
questions.
M i g r a t i o na n dS B S
Most early South Asian immigrants to Southall left the subcontinent soon
after Partition (1947), arriving in Greater London in the late 1950s. Primarily
Sikhs or Hindus and mainly Punjabi speakers, many came from the peas-
ant proprietor class whose members had lost land, savings, and security
through the dislocation that accompanied Partition. Upon arrival most were
able to obtain jobs only at factories in or near Southall, at low pay, with long
hours and few benefits (Brah 1996; Fryer 1984; Visram 1986; Dhanjal 1976;
Lee 1972). In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a new group of South Asians
from East Africa arrived in Southall, bringing with them their middle-class
urban experience as well as skills as owners of small businesses, enriching
the Southall community in many ways (Bhachu 1985; Brah 1996; Institute of
Race Relations 1981). Soon after their arrival, however, immigration came
under explicit attack by the National Front (NF), a party that presented itself
as protecting the “racial purity” of England (Taylor 1978; Hanna 1974; Nu-
gent 1976).
The NF’s announcement that it would hold an election meeting on 23
April 1979, in Southall, was the first in a set of events leading to the SBS
Ramlila. Just two days before the planned meeting, an NF leader called upon
members to emulate the heroes of H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine and de-
feat “dark-skinned, hook-nosed dwarfs” (Dummett 1980: 190). Not surpris-
ingly, a large group of protesters from Southall and elsewhere in the country
showed up to contest the views of the NF. The presence of the police that
day was large as well, with highly visible representation from the Special
Patrol Group police, a corps of crack riot police. In the violence that ensued
during the meeting and protest, hundreds of protesters were injured, one
man died, and about seven hundred were arrested. While “mainstream”
English-language newspapers such as the Daily Telegraph reported the event
with the headline “Asian Fury at Election Meeting” and the subheading “40
Police Hurt in Protest over National Front” (24 May 1979), a local newspaper,
Punjab Times, argued that people of Southall had been reduced to “the sta-
Everyday Life in South Asia, edited by Diane P. Mines, and Sarah Lamb, Indiana University Press, 2010. ProQuest Ebook
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A Diaspora Ramayana in Southall/ 439
tus of a British Imperial Colony from that of a town of free citizens” (1 May
1979).
In the aftermath of the event, SBS met to discuss how they should re-
spond. The group contained women of South Asian descent born in Britain,
women with South Asian parents who had grown up in East Africa, and
women of African Caribbean descent born in Britain or the Caribbean. The
Asian community in Southall was larger than the African Caribbean one at
that time, and the groups had different pre-immigration histories. Yet SBS
women found that their roots in colonized countries and their current ex-
perience of racism and sexism in Britain gave them many shared experienc-
es, issues, and hopes.2 The founding members of SBS ranged from teenage
schoolgirls to young postgraduates and working women.
Earlier, SBS had undertaken a series of community projects to improve
the lives of girls and women in Southall and had worked with other orga-
nizations to combat racism in Greater London. They also staffed an advice
center on Saturdays at the Southall Rights Building, volunteering their time
to give information about legal issues and immigration laws, as well as pro-
viding support to women experiencing difficulties in their families or rela-
tionships. Heretofore, male elders and community leaders within the South
Asian community had counseled wives to use strategies of avoidance and
compliance when dealing with domestic violence and other gender-related
issues. SBS felt that women needed advice from other women, especially
ones without a vested interest in maintaining the status quo within families.
Some male members of the Southall community greeted the formation
of SBS with suspicion. A few saw SBS as troublemakers who threatened the
stability of the family structure, especially because they helped women who
fled their homes because of domestic violence. Other men felt that the South
Asian community should speak as a single group, and SBS would under-
mine that. Some worried this new group might later siphon funds away from
established social service organizations or draw support away from such
groups as the Southall Youth Movement, founded in 1976 to combat racist at-
tacks. Nonetheless, SBS-initiated projects such as picketing the “Miss South-
all” beauty contest won them support in the larger community. Feminist
goals in this case had paralleled those of some male-dominated groups who
had earlier been suspicious of SBS. After the events on 23 April in Southall,
SBS chose a Ramlila as their means to express their solidarity with those ar-
rested and with the larger Southall community.
C o n c e p t u a l i z i n gaR a m l i l a
Among the stories that hold a special place in South Asian culture, SBS chose
Ramkatha because its narrative resources helped them to dramatize their
ideal relationship to their community and to express their defiance of Brit-
Everyday Life in South Asia, edited by Diane P. Mines, and Sarah Lamb, Indiana University Press, 2010. ProQuest Ebook
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440 / Globalization, Public Culture, and the South Asian Diaspora
ish racism. Rama and Sita show their deep commitment to virtue when they
save the reputation of Rama’s father for truthfulness by going into forest
exile. During their stay there, the demon Ravana tricks Rama into leaving
Sita alone and then abducts her. After an extended search Rama finds Sita,
defeats Ravana in battle, and rescues his wife. This narrative has long been
dramatized in South Asia.
Several factors shaped the SBS decision to perform a Ramlila in response
to the incidents of 23 April 1979. First, as an anti-racist group, they sought
some form of symbolic action that would make visible their outrage about
police brutality against the black population of Southall. A benefit perfor-
mance whose proceeds would be donated to the Southall Legal Defense
Fund, an organization helping to defray the legal costs of those charged in
the 23 April conflict, seemed an appropriate project. Although the SBS real-
ized that the performance might not raise a large amount of money, they
viewed the benefit both as a material contribution and as an expression of
solidarity.
Second, they wanted to undertake a project that would demonstrate pub-
licly their connection to the cultural traditions of their community, as un-
derstood by their elders. Such an event would show that criticisms of SBS as
divisive to the community were unwarranted. SBS chose a Ramlila because
of its link with Divali, a major South Asian festival of lights long popular in
north India, in which Hindus commemorated the destruction of a demon.3
Before communalism in India became as pronounced as it did later, lighting
lamps and sharing sweets with one’s Hindu and non-Hindu neighbors was
common at Divali in many parts of the subcontinent. SBS chose a Ramlila
at Divali because of its traditional connections with unity, celebration, and
good fortune.
Third, the story of Ravana’s destruction resonated strongly with recent
events. Ramlila celebrates the victory of good over evil, dramatizing a tale
of oppressive rule destroyed by the perseverance of those committed to vir-
tue. At a symbolic level, it could be seen as paralleling Southall resistance to
abuse from the British state, and might comfort those recovering from the
physical and psychological wounds of policy brutality in April.
Finally, the shared feminist convictions of members of SBS challenged
them to find an appropriate way to depict the relationship between Rama
and his utterly devoted wife Sita. In most well-known tellings of the story,
the portrayal of Sita could be seen as reinforcing patriarchal views of gender.
SBS members did not want to stage a play that could be seen as contradicting
the feminist tenets of SBS. On the other hand, if they found an appropriate
way to incorporate their critical views into the play, it could provide them
with an opportunity to share their political convictions with members of
their community. At that time, they were the only inside group that could
mount a critique of sexist attitudes to improve it, rather than attack it from
the outside to disparage South Asian culture, as some racist groups had done.
Everyday Life in South Asia, edited by Diane P. Mines, and Sarah Lamb, Indiana University Press, 2010. ProQuest Ebook
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A Diaspora Ramayana in Southall/ 441
Therefore, the SBS chose to stage a unique Ramlila that would combine
cultural appreciation with cultural critique. Many South Asian members of
SBS had participated in Ramlilas during their school years. The SBS decided
to produce a Ramlila similar to such plays in general, but differing in ideo-
logical goals. This drama would question patriarchal attitudes in the com-
munity, but do so in a spirit of affection and celebration.
Immediately complex issues surfaced. Several Marxist SBS members felt
that supporting the project would affirm religious ideals (and according to
classical Marxist thought, religion is the opiate of the masses, as well as epi-
phenomenal). Second, as one member asked, “What’s the contribution of this
play to the African Caribbean community?” The Ramayana was linked pri-
marily with South Asian Hindu culture, so why should African Caribbeans
or, indeed, other South Asian religious groups such as Sikhs and Muslims,
see it as a meaningful drama for them?4 In response, the group sought to
mount a Ramlila that would strengthen and celebrate the entire Southall
black community, and contest patriarchal ideologies at the same time. But
this, pointed out another member of the group, might offend orthodox mem-
bers of the community who would attend expecting a pious reiteration of the
story. Would such a performance defeat the goal of bringing the community
together? SBS wanted to create a thought-provoking Ramlila that would take
into account these multiple concerns (Brah 1988).
Financial and temporal limitations contributed to the improvisational
nature of the production. The SBS had virtually no funding and exactly
three weeks to prepare the drama to be staged on Friday, 19 October 1979.
SBS received help from many people, including the Indian Workers Asso-
ciation, which loaned them a venue; an Indian classical music teacher who
volunteered to provide musical accompaniment to enhance the mood of the
scenes; and an Indian restaurant in Southall that provided free sweets to dis-
tribute to members of the audience. Samosas, fried dumplings stuffed with
spicy potato filling, were donated for sale at the performance as a fundraiser.
Several women donated old saris to be sewn into a stage curtain, while oth-
ers lent jewelry and other props. Many women who were not SBS members
helped set up the stage, put out chairs, distribute sweets, and sell tickets.
The performance was publicized in local shops and by community groups,
as well as some nationally based anti-racist groups. A small notice appeared
in the Southall Gazette (19 October 1979).
The collaborative manner in which SBS wrote the script, in keeping with
its principle of coalitional practices, led to a play whose emphases were in-
tensely debated, critiqued, and revised before the performance. Perminder
Dhillon, to whom primary responsibility fell for synthesizing the many
ideas for the script, recounted in an interview with me the intensity and
excitement of working through and with the many views taken into account
in conceptualizing the play (1994 interview). The collaborative manner in
which the play developed also meant that the SBS Ramlila represented the
Everyday Life in South Asia, edited by Diane P. Mines, and Sarah Lamb, Indiana University Press, 2010. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/unt/detail.action?docID=1402903.
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442 / Globalization, Public Culture, and the South Asian Diaspora
views of the group in a way that no performance put together by a single
director could.
P e r f o r m i n gt h eS B SR a m l i l a
SBS told Rama’s story in ways that would encourage members of the audi-
ence to question some widely accepted cultural assumptions about women,
but would still contain elements that made the drama clearly recognizable as
a Ramlila. The play included the familiar events in the story: Rama’s birth,
the exile to the forest, the abduction of Sita, and Rama’s victory over Ra-
vana. Although the narrative remained fairly standard, certain decisions
about casting and framing devices introduced multiple perspectives into the
drama.
In contrast to some Indian dramatic traditions where men play both fe-
male and male roles (because acting is considered disreputable for women),5
in the SBS Ramlila women played all the parts. In addition, casting choices
deliberately thwarted traditional expectations. For example, Sita was played
by a tall Asian woman, while Rama was played by a short African Caribbean
woman. This casting undercut notions that the story “belongs” to a single
ethnic group. It also subverted a widely held belief that a “proper” wife must
be shorter than her husband.
In a manner crucial to its critical edge, the SBS production included a
storyteller and two jesters, who mediated between the events depicted and
the audience: The storyteller would come onstage, give background for the
upcoming scene, and begin to comment on its significance. As she did so,
the two jesters would interrupt her, drawing the audience’s attention to tra-
ditional sayings, pointing out topical parallels, or interrogating certain as-
sumptions about women reflected in the scene. One jester, a South Asian
woman fluent in both English and Punjabi, included well-known Punjabi
expressions in her speeches. The other jester, an African Caribbean woman,
found ways to translate those Punjabi phrases in her comments, mediating
for audience members who did not know Punjabi. Both functioned to dis-
rupt the familiar, easy flow of the Ramayana narrative and question stereo-
typical gender roles in the play.
For an example of how this structure worked, consider how SBS dealt with
the birth of Rama and his brothers. After many childless years, Dasaratha
performed a special sacrificial rite, as a result of which his three wives con-
ceived and gave birth to male children. What a great celebration the king
sponsored! At this moment the first jester said:
Yes, it was like that when my brother was born—a great celebration and my
family passed out laddhus [a round sweet made of brown sugar and butter].
But when I was born, they didn’t celebrate. My mother said, “Hi Veh Raba,
soota mundiyan dha thaba.”
Everyday Life in South Asia, edited by Diane P. Mines, and Sarah Lamb, Indiana University Press, 2010. ProQuest Ebook
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A Diaspora Ramayana in Southall/ 443
Immediately following the first jester’s comments, the second one responded
by paraphrasing the Punjabi comment in English, and adding her own eco-
nomic analysis of the situation:
She said to God, “Why don’t you just throw me a bunch of boys?” Why such
jubilation when the son is born, but not the daughter? She must have been
worrying about the dowry to be paid for the marriage of a daughter.
The interchange between jesters directs the listeners’ attention to the socio-
economic forces that immediately begin to shape parents’ attitudes toward
their children: It was not a daughter per se that was disagreeable; instead it
was the custom of giving dowry for a bride, and thus commodifying her,
that allowed such fears about and responses to the birth of daughters to
continue.
One performer recalled that her mother brought to the play a grand-
mother and some elderly aunts who spoke Punjabi and knew little English.
They were used to sitting through community meetings conducted in Eng-
lish without understanding them, coming anyway in order to meet friends
and feel part of their community. Until the first jester’s comment, they had
viewed the drama primarily as a pious reiteration of Lord Rama’s greatness,
enjoying the event in their own terms, as a religious holiday and a chance
to socialize. Their perception of the Ramlila received confirmation as they
entered the theater and received special Divali sweets. They responded to
the first jester’s idiomatic Punjabi comments with laughs of recognition; the
play called attention to the greater value placed on male babies than female
babies, a fact of life with which they were all too familiar. That women out-
numbered men in the audience meant many of them had personal experi-
ence with the differing ways in which the birth of a girl or a boy was greeted.
The majority of those of South Asian descent who attended the SBS Ram-
lila spoke English. For example, one member of the cast recalled that her
mother brought along not only pious older womenfolk but younger sisters,
brothers, and cousins who were fluent in English as a result of their school-
ing. Thus the second jester’s translation of the Punjabi phrase and the dia-
logue between the two jesters enhanced the process of questioning certain
gender assumptions that might otherwise have been received without fur-
ther reflection.
The jesters included pointedly topical comparisons to show that the re-
lationships in the story were not only ones enacted in some mythic past, but
echoed events in the daily life of the audience. In one scene, for example,
Sita begged her husband to take her along on his forest exile, but he refused,
claiming to her that life would be too harsh for her: her tender lotus-feet
might get cut by thorns and bruised by rocks. Sita hit him in the shoulder
with a thump and said, “I’m good enough to wear myself out doing all the
housework in our home, but not good enough to go to the forest with you?”
Submissively, Rama replied, “Whatever you say, my dear.” His response
Everyday Life in South Asia, edited by Diane P. Mines, and Sarah Lamb, Indiana University Press, 2010. ProQuest Ebook
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444 / Globalization, Public Culture, and the South Asian Diaspora
parodied the way a “proper” wife is “supposed” to answer her husband’s
commands.
At another point, when the narrator enumerated the heavy duties that
fall to a wife, a jester interrupted, saying, “Yeh, it’s a bit like how hard the
women at T’walls Factory work, isn’t it?” Many South Asian women worked
long hours at local factories, and then returned home to cook and clean
house. The jester asked why women have to work a shift outside the home,
and a shift inside the home as well. The scene also undermined the gender
construct of a wife as a weak creature.
The Ramlila presented these topical comments humorously, in a non-
threatening way, linking them to daily life by referring to familiar places.
Among the actors and audience members whom I interviewed, it is this topi-
cal humor that has remained most sharply etched in people’s memories of
the Ramlila. Almost everyone remembered the funny asides of the jesters, a
few repeating the Punjabi line quoted above. Several others recited word for
word, as a high point of the performance, the line about Sita’s tender lotus-
feet and its irony; these women had to deal on an everyday basis with mul-
tiple pressures and dangerous work environments in factories, laundries,
their homes, and during their journeys to and from work. They had little
time to worry about their tender lotus-feet.
Members of the cast raised questions about notions of masculinity as
well. In a scene set in the forest, for example, Rama’s brother Lakshmana
heard the calls of wild animals, cowered in fear, and then ran to hide be-
hind Sita, who reassured him, “Don’t worry, I’m here.” This line would be
particularly comic for regular Ramlila-goers because Lakshmana is usually
portrayed as a fearless warrior, ready to attack anyone who poses the slight-
est threat to Rama, Sita, or the kingly lineage.
Toward the end of the Ramlila where Rama battles Ravana, the objects
of critique shift from gender relations to the current electoral situation in
Southall. As the brief program notes say, “Ravana is killed by Rama. Good
wins over evil” (Southall Black Sisters 1979: 1). The interpretation of Ravana
as Evil Incarnate determined the appearance of Ravana’s mask, composed of
ten different visual images. Several of the heads were enlarged photographs
of specific people, including Enoch Powell, major figures in the NF, a local
member of the Ealing council, and even Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Other heads represented oppression in more abstract form. For example, the
hat worn by riot police was drawn on one head to stand for police brutal-
ity. A bobby’s black hat over a drawing of a pig symbolized the policing to
which the community was subject on a regular basis (Dhillon 1979). Anoth-
er drawing represented the increasingly restrictive immigration laws that
threatened to tear apart families and penalize those whose parents were not
born in Britain. The symbolism of Ravana, therefore, encompassed crucial
concerns not just of South Asian immigrant communities but of African Ca-
ribbean ones as well.
Everyday Life in South Asia, edited by Diane P. Mines, and Sarah Lamb, Indiana University Press, 2010. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/unt/detail.action?docID=1402903.
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A Diaspora Ramayana in Southall/ 445
The practice of culminating the Ramlila by burning Ravana in effigy, ac-
companied by celebratory fireworks, is an ancient and venerable one, sym-
bolizing the conquest of good over evil. In the SBS production, after Rama
defeated Ravana, the storyteller told the audience, “I’ll see you in the car-
park, where we’ll finish Ravana off.” There SBS set off fireworks, much to the
delight of the spectators. In this Ramlila, the destruction of Ravana’s effigy
symbolized the desire to end racism in Britain. This final message brought
together the concerns of the varied members of the audience: Pun jabi and
English speakers, South Asians and African Caribbeans, people from Sou th-
all and anti-Nazi activists that came from afar. The fireworks were a celebra-
tory moment, and they gestured toward a future when all people in Southall
could live without fear, humiliation, or deprivation of their rights.
H e r ea n dT h e r e
Several of the original SBS members, speaking in the 1990s in interviews
with me, look back on the 1979 Ramlila as a moment of singular unity. In the
more than two decades since the performance, pan-minority unity has been
harder to achieve. Increasing competition for council funding and housing,
as well as tensions caused by the financial constraints of the Thatcher and
Major years, have tended to put one community in competition with another
at times (Baumann 1996: 60–71). Among children of South Asian descent
who identify with the cultural heritage of their parents but have grown up in
England, some community boundaries have become more clearly marked, at
least partially due to political events in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. In-
dira Gandhi’s decision to bring troops into the Sikh Golden Temple in Amrit-
sar (1984), the subsequent assassination of Mrs. Gandhi, and the rioting that
took the lives of hundreds of Sikhs split Hindus and Sikhs more strongly
than ever before. The destruction of the Ramjanmabhumi/Babri Mosque in
Ayodhya and the riots that developed in response to it in Pakistan and Ban-
gladesh, as well as in India, tend to make it harder and harder for Hindus
and Muslims to carry on coalitional politics. Events surrounding the pub-
lication of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses also took their toll (Asad 1993).
Thus, current reflection on the SBS as a moment of unity raises intriguing
questions about the notion of diaspora. How is unity in Britain tied to or
separate from conceptions of unity in South Asia? Is diaspora less about “be-
ing in exile from home” and more about being tied to two places?
Finally, the SBS Ramlila raises intriguing questions about the nature
of representation in the context of South Asian immigration. For example,
one might ask whose “culture” does the SBS Ramlila represent? It cannot
be equated purely with Hindu identity, since key members of the produc-
tion were African Caribbeans and/or Marxists. Among the South Asians,
both Sikhs and Hindus were involved. Nor could it be said to be an exact
Everyday Life in South Asia, edited by Diane P. Mines, and Sarah Lamb, Indiana University Press, 2010. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/unt/detail.action?docID=1402903.
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446 / Globalization, Public Culture, and the South Asian Diaspora
reflection of the entire Southall South Asian community, since the audience
was made up primarily of women. Furthermore, it is possible that some or-
thodox Hindus might even find the performance “inauthentic” because the
play did not linger on auspicious scenes for darshan of Lord Rama, as most
pious Ramlilas do. Finally, one could not label it a pristine transportation
of a particular Indian regional performance to Britain, since its performers
used an eclectic style of script development and borrowed from a number of
dramatic forms.
Rather than arguing that the SBS performance was not a “real” one, one
must question the notion of a homogeneous Indian tradition transplanted
to England. The Ramayana tradition has long encompassed both authorita-
tive and oppositional tellings (Richman 2000). Authoritative tellings of Ram-
katha such as those by Valmiki and Tulsidas tend to reaffirm the power of the
king, the priest, and the male patriarchy. In contrast, the SBS self-conscious-
ly sought to avoid reaffirming such patriarchal norms. Their oppositional
Ramlila suggests ways of overcoming sexism within their own community
and racism within the wider British community. The SBS Ramlila represent-
ed the diversity of the nonwhite population in Southall. Its combination of
cultural appreciation and cultural critique may mirror the ambiguities and
contradictions of other South Asian diaspora communities as well.
A c k n o w l e d g m e n t s
I thank Avtar Brah, Perminder Dhillon, Parita Mukta, and several other members of
the original Southall Black Sisters, who graciously shared their time and memories
with me and gave me suggestions for improving an earlier version of this paper.
Leela Fernandez, Michael H. Fisher, and Lakshmi Holmstrom also made helpful
comments. I alone am responsible for any errors.
A longer version of this essay, with extensive comparison between this and
other women’s Ramayanas, first appeared in the Journal of the American Academy of
Religion 67, no. 1 (Winter 1999): 33–57, and was reprinted in a somewhat different
form in Questioning Ramayanas, A South Asian Tradition (New Delhi: Oxford Univer-
sity Press, and Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000).
N o t e s
1. Recently a group whose membership does not overlap with the original
group of “Southall Black Sisters” (formed in 1978–79) also adopted the name “South-
all Black Sisters.” Throughout this article, I refer only to the original Southall Black
Sisters.
2. Some comments on the “Black” in “Southall Black Sisters” are also in order
here. A number of South Asians and African Caribbeans in Southall viewed them-
selves as part of a larger black identity, because of their shared history of colonialism
Everyday Life in South Asia, edited by Diane P. Mines, and Sarah Lamb, Indiana University Press, 2010. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/unt/detail.action?docID=1402903.
Created from unt on 2022-05-03 21:21:36.
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A Diaspora Ramayana in Southall/ 447
and the racist assumptions upon which it rested. The sense of black identity as a uni-
fying force developed in the later 1970s and remained strong in the 1980s; many used
the term “black” (and, in some British circles, continue to use it) self-consciously as
a political term to indicate unity among various nonwhite minority groups fighting
racism. The term “Asian” had been used to describe Asian immigrants in Kenya and
Uganda. Although “Asian,” when used to describe people of the Indian subconti-
nent, is more limited than “black,” it still involves unity across boundaries, since
it includes people of different nationalities (Indians, Pakistanis), religions (Hindus,
Muslims, and Sikhs primarily), and classes (mostly lower and middle class).
3. Divali lasts for four or five days, depending upon the lunar calendar, and falls
sometime in October or November each year. Until fairly recently Sikhs shared the
celebration of Divali with Hindus, since Guru Amar Das had approved of it for Sikh
congregations. In the years of South Asian immigration under discussion in this
paper, Sikhs and Hindus in Southall did celebrate Divali together. After Mrs. Gan-
dhi ordered the destruction of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, and then was assas-
sinated by two Sikh bodyguards, the situation changed in Southall and elsewhere.
Today, Hindus celebrate Divali and Sikhs celebrate the holiday as the day of Guru
Hargobind’s release from the Gwalior jail. See Nesbitt 1955.
4. Many Indians in the Caribbean did, however, celebrate Divali and perform
Ramlilas. For ethnography and photographs of Ramlila performances in Trinidad,
see Niehoff and Niehoff 1960.
5. Examples include teṟukuttu performances in Tamil Nadu, Kathakali plays in
Kerala, and the svarups of the Ramnagar Ramlila performance of Varanasi.
Everyday Life in South Asia, edited by Diane P. Mines, and Sarah Lamb, Indiana University Press, 2010. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/unt/detail.action?docID=1402903.
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Format: Times New Roman, 12″ font, double spaced, saved as word document
Length: 800 words (be concise!)
This paper will require you to conduct independent research and then analyze what you
researched in terms of course material (Lesson 11a/b/c). For the case, research and
write about each of the following:
• Describe the organization: its history, community (the people it serves), and
objectives
• Describe the selected cause: its history in relation to South Asians in the U.S.
• Analyze the organization’s political strategy: discuss the different approaches
to advocacy, solidarity with other groups (reference Richman and other
sources)
• Bonus points for incorporating course concepts, such as colonialism,
immigration policy, multiculturalism, diaspora, into the paper.
Citations:
• Cite at least 4 sources (1 from course readings, such as Richman, 3 from
outside of class – articles listed on the previous page). You are not required to
seek out additional materials (not listed on previous page).
• Make a references list at end of paper. Use this
guide: https://www.americananthro.org/StayInformed/Content.aspx?ItemNu
mber=2044 (Links to an external site.)
(Use the “Online Resources” guide for newspaper articles and any articles/blogs on
organization’s website)
• For publications with no easily identifiable author(s), you may cite the
organization name that published it. For instance, for the Case #4 Report on
Desis Rising Up and Moving, “Building Power and Safety through Solidarity”
you should cite it as (DRUM 2020).
• Do NOT use block quotes. Block quote are 4 lines of quote or longer.
• Do not cite lectures

https://www.americananthro.org/StayInformed/Content.aspx?ItemNumber=2044
https://www.americananthro.org/StayInformed/Content.aspx?ItemNumber=2044

Main paper uploaded to the sweetstudy.

Case: Adhikaar – fight for TPS
Organization website: https://adhikaar.org/ (link to organization’s website)(Links to an external
site.)

Background on TPS: American Immigration Council (link to article) (Links to an external
site.), Nepali Times (link to article) (Links to an external site.)
Adhikaar action on TPS: Research Report on TPS (link to pdf report)Download Research
Report on TPS (link to pdf report),Feb 23, 2021 press release (link to website) (Links to an
external site.), November 16, 2019 Press Release (link to website) (Links to an external
site.), March 6, 2019 Statement (link to website) (Links to an external site.), TPS Caribbean-
Himalayan Alliance (link to article) (Links to an external site.)

Background on Adhikaar’s neighborhood: People’s Walking tour of Jackson Heights (link to
website) (Links to an external site.) (Queens, NY)

News stories on Adhikaar: Nepali Times (link to article) (Links to an external site.), New York
Times (link to article) (Links to an external site.), Al Jazeera (link to article) (Links to an
external site.)

HOME

HOME


https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/temporary-protected-status-overview
https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/temporary-protected-status-overview
http://archive.nepalitimes.com/article/nation/concern-over-temporary-protected-status-of-Nepalis-in-US,4072
https://unt.instructure.com/courses/60965/files/14913887?wrap=1
https://unt.instructure.com/courses/60965/files/14913887/download?download_frd=1
https://unt.instructure.com/courses/60965/files/14913887/download?download_frd=1

Congress Must Act Now to Protect Nepali TPS Holders

Congress Must Act Now to Protect Nepali TPS Holders

What is Happening with TPS? टिपिएस को बारे के भईरहेको छ?

What is Happening with TPS? टिपिएस को बारे के भईरहेको छ?

Statement of Adhikaar: Committee to the United States House Committee on the Judiciary Hearing on “Protecting Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status Recipients”


https://www.caribbeanlifenews.com/tps-alliance-seeks-rescind-of-trumps-racist-policies-on-immigration/
https://www.caribbeanlifenews.com/tps-alliance-seeks-rescind-of-trumps-racist-policies-on-immigration/
https://thepeopleswalkingtour.wordpress.com/
https://thepeopleswalkingtour.wordpress.com/

Under Biden, hope for Nepali migrants in US




http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/5/22/nepali-speaking-nail-salon-workers-found-to-suffer-low-pay-health-issues.html
http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/5/22/nepali-speaking-nail-salon-workers-found-to-suffer-low-pay-health-issues.html
https://unt.instructure.com/courses/60965/files/14913887/download?download_frd=1

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