This issue of the SOAS Literary Review has been almost two years in the making, and it bears the traces of the institutional problems of the journal, of both disruptions and continuities. Since its creation in 1998, the journal has strived to provide research students with a space for critical reflection and debate that cuts across the institutionalised, regional boundaries of area studies, in order to move beyond the philological and descriptive discourse on literature such divisions of knowledge tend to generate. Together with the AHRB Centre for Asian and African Literatures, the SOAS Literary Review has been encouraging work which explicitly rejects the limited Orientalist perspective and brings the insights of critical theory into the discussion of non-Western literary and cultural texts. The new Review will also expand its disciplinary focus to include work on cultural practices such as film, media, visual and performing arts, which employs the theoretically informed perspectives of cultural studies and engages with issues of power, culture and representation.

A version of Hima Raza's article 'Unravelling Sharam as a Metaphor for Mohajir Identity in Salman Rushdie's Shame' has already appeared in Wasafiri. We are publishing the article because it was submitted to the journal two years ago - and as a tribute to the author and her tragic and untimely death. Hima Raza's incisive reading of Shame seems to exemplify Fredric Jameson's dictum (from The Political Unconscious) that the political is the ultimate horizon of interpretation of any literary text. The article employs the figure of the mohajir as a trope which embodies the ambivalence underlying Rushdies's imaging of migrant identity. Raza argues that in Rushdie's writing the mohajir operates as a political device which subverts the fixity of nationalism and negotiates a perpetually fractured, yet potentially empowering diasporic subjectivity.

Hisako Takahashi's exploration of the intersections between literature and the visual arts is focused on Natsume Soseki (1867-1916), Japan's exemplary modern writer, and the use of Symbolism in his work Sanshiro. Through a careful examination of diaries, notes and the exhibition catalogues Soseki owned, Takahashi builds a complex picture of the role of painting in Sanshiro, not only as an inspiration and a source of symbolist allusion, but as a practice of representation which challenges the fundamental elements of fiction.

Daniel Taghioff's article on the reporting of The World Social Forum (held in Mumbai in 2004) in the Indian press, puts forward a powerful argument against the hegemony of Western-based, English-language debates on globalization, their underlying paradigm of enlightenment liberalism, and their various constructions of a predominantly liberal subject. Taghioff contrasts the reporting of the The World Social Forum in the Indian media to commentary in the local vernacular press in the state of Karnataka, in order to show that other debates, with other subjects, are possible.

Kyoo Lee's text blurs the boundaries between strictly academic inquiry and creative writing to present an original introduction to the Korean poet Ch'oe Young-Mi (1961-). Lee's translations of the poems are interspersed with illuminating analyses of Ch'oe's complex poetics: her postmodern urban despair and her feminist aesthetics of the body. Lee's reading emphasises both the lyrical beauty of the poems and their forceful political charge.


Irena Hayter

  2005 SOAS Literary Review 
a woman with a green veil, nataly hachem, lebanon naginata, hiromitsu takahashi, japan al itqan, ali omar ermes the soul box, zerihun yetmgeta, ethiopia visionartist, yuji hiratsuka, china woman's portrait, rahim ahmedov, uzbekistan stormy staffa, frances macdonald, scotland i see two worlds, vasundhara tewari, india rock, pio carlone, australia recontre des cultures, daniel kambere tsongo, drc/uganda