This issue of SAMAR explores identity and the state . Considering two specific locales, Sri Lanka and the US, the pieces in this issue look at state repression and policing  of citizens, and the practice of identity and identification. Although narratives of social and political progress mark each site—a decades-long civil war ends in Sri Lanka and the U.S. opens to black political leadership in its highest office—minority communities are increasingly terrorized and patrolled via state-backing and strategic blind-eye.


Gendered violence plays a pervasive and significant role in the lives of modern women around the globe. In that vein, we present a special issue on women’s responses and activism against gender-based violence in South Asian and South Asian diasporic communities.

In honor of our 20th anniversary, this issue features poetry by Bushra Rehman, Purvi Shah, YaliniDream and Ather Zia, along with a photo essay by Sabelo Narasimhan. Together, these pieces highlight the diversity of voices in the diaspora, ranging from Narasimhan’s visual documentation of protests against New York City’s Stop-and-Frisk policy to Rehman’s tongue-in-cheek take on break-ups.

A series of articles published the week of September 11th, 2011 that reflect on what's happened in the last decade in the U.S., within the South Asian, Muslim and Arab community, and in countries abroad in such places as the Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.  

As Kashmir is perhaps the lynchpin in unraveling the convoluted landscape of South Asian geopolitics, the articles in this special issue of SAMAR address how varying levels of violence manifest on Kashmiri bodies.  The authors - all Kashmiri diasporic writers - draw on recent research and work experiences in Srinagar, looking at how Indian occupation shapes everyday life.

Devastating earthquakes and the threat of another development agenda based on disaster capitalism (to use Naomi Klein's phrase). Climate talks that failed to achieve their goals in Copenhagen. And one year later, finding little hope and less change in a supposedly historic presidency. It was good riddance to 2009; but standing at the dawn of 2010, we're straining our eyes to see the light. This latest issue of SAMAR explores the various states of disaster we find ourselves witnessing and experiencing, at home and abroad.

Reform, organizing, tackling old notions of identity, creating our own discourses and advocating for our own hundred days into the Obama administration...and it is time for some spring cleaning all around. It has been heartening to learn that health care is clearly one of the current administration's top priorities. But to address the problems of the healthcare industry so that the reforms can adequately serve all communities in the U.S., we must unpack the racist and classist elements that guide decision-making.

We all shared the horror of the attacks on Mumbai. Some of us thought of family and friends there, the places we had visited, some of us immediately began thinking about what was in store for Pakistan. We all wondered whether the city would be the same again. That weekend, SAMAR published a response by Biju Mathew that circulated on mailing lists around the world.

Now that the election is over, we can all take a collective sigh of relief and relax...or can we?

From the walkout of 100 South Asian migrant workers in Mississippi to the perseverance of arbitrarily detained human rights advocates in India, South Asians across the globe are organizing around human rights and challenging state oppression in interesting ways. This issue of SAMAR focuses on human rights abuses, absences in state accountability, and creative responses for social change, particularly in using storytelling as a way to counter systemic issues.

Electoral seasons are in full swing across the subcontinent and in the United States. These campaigns have made or have the potential to make history. In the United States, Bobby Jindal was elected the country's first South Asian-American governor in October 2007. Barack Obama could become the first non-white president or Hillary Clinton could become the first female president in American history. This April, the Maoists could finally become part of Nepal's political fabric and put an end to a decade-long civil war.

In the eight years since President Bush embraced the “war on terror” as a national security doctrine, we have experienced a dramatic upsurge in political instability worldwide resulting in the mass migration of millions who either live as refugees in exile or find themselves internally displaced within their own state. Coupled with rising political instability, neoliberal economic policies have pushed many marginalized groups to migrate for economic survival.

In our struggles for peace, workers’ rights, racial justice, queer and gender rights, we often overlook basic issues of health and access to affordable and effective health care. Although these issues are often deemed less important or vital than others, they are integral aspects of these movements.

October 6, 2002 marked the first anniversary of the day when the U.S., responding to an attack by 19 hijackers on their soil, began bombing Afghanistan. October 2002 is also touted as the month when the US will begin a second assault on Iraq, ostensibly for the crime of possessing weapons of "mass destruction."

Over the years SAMAR magazine has insisted that South Asians are united by a shared history which provides a common basis for understanding our place in the contemporary world. At the same time we have tried to explore the multiple ways that sexuality, gender, religion, nationality, and class complicate any simple attempt to lump South Asians together in an unproblematic way. In this issue we turn our attention to the question of generation. We pose this from within the context of the North American diaspora.

The relationship between the Indian subcontinent and the African continent has always been one of political solidarity. India and Pakistan were among the earliest nations to voice the need for boycotting the apartheid regime of South Africa. The South West African People's Organization (SWAPO) was accorded the status of a sovereign nation in South Asia way before Namibian independence influence. The death of Patrice Lumumba was mourned in the streets of Dhaka, Calcutta and Karachi.

You are what you eat, goes an old materialist saying. If we take pleasure in our food, do we also know what it takes of us, and how we form ourselves in the process? With our forum, Eat This! we offer a different kind of fare, thoughts about food and the politics of consumption, at home and out. Included in this issue are Flower Sifliman's reflections about cuisine as a cultural force, one that itself changes with history.