Rebellion and the Ghadar Centennial

Dear Readers,

This weekend, the South Asian Solidarity Initiative will bring together an international group of South Asians in New York City at “Echoes of Ghadar,” in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Ghadar Party ( Begun in early 1913 in Oregon and formalized on Nov. 1, 1913 in San Francisco, through the printing of the party’s first newspaper, The Ghadar, this group of Punjabi farmworkers and students organized a long-distance campaign for anti-colonial revolution in India. Their secular, nationalist platform declared that they sought "brave soldiers” who would serve under the following conditions: “Pay-death; Price-martyrdom; Pension-liberty; Field of battle-India".

Though short-lived (the party began to dissemble as early as 1917, due to a series of anti-conspiracy trials instituted by the U.S.), the legacy of Ghadar is long--”living”, in the words of Simmy Makhijani. This issue of SAMAR complements the convergence that is taking place on the east coast by focusing on the legacy of Ghadar for South Asian diasporic artists, academics and activists. How do we practice and understand revolution? How has the spirit of Ghadar shaped the communities we form and circulate within in the present, and how have we transformed radical action in the 21st century?

Several of our features pay special attention to the birthplace of Ghadar, the Bay Area. Anirvan Chatterjee takes us on a tour of Berkeley’s radical South Asian American history, and argues that historical memory is one of the key inspirations for contemporary political movements. Simmy Makhijani shares the fascinating biography of one of the daughters of Ghadar, Ayesha Gill, who, today, carries on the familial legacy of her parents and grandparents (who were founders of the Ghadar Party) at Occupy Oakland and rallies for Trayvon Martin.

Our arts features capture the spirit of rebellion and resistance in and beyond the Bay Area. Joti Singh reflects on a performance piece she developed that was inspired by her own familial connection to Ghadar history. Sonny Singh, of the Brooklyn Bhangra band Red Baraat, considers the political power of music, and Amal Rana imagines how love can inspire revolution.

We are also proud to include a review of Bushra Rehman’s new novel, Corona (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2013), which expands on the glimpse of Queens she gave us in our February 2013 Art of Politics issue:

As always, we welcome suggestions and submissions for our upcoming issue--write us at

In solidarity,

Ahalya Satkunaratnam

Anantha Sudhakar

Beena Ahmad

Saba Waheed

Surabhi Kukke

Virali Modi-Parekh


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