Impoverished Diversity

By Nadya Chishty-Mujahid | February 2020

Book Title : Hungry Translations
Author    : Richa Nagar
Publisher  : University of Illinois
                         Press, 2019
Pages    : Paperback, 299 pp
ISBN     : 978-969-976-004-4

Gender studies and sexuality professor Richa Nagar focuses on the topic of hunger in deeply impoverished strata of society in this academic publication titled ‘Hungry Translations.’ The book combines academic discourse with creative pieces such as poems and plays (especially one titled Hansa) in order to illustrate the concept of global hunger, and more intriguingly, the collective psychological response of communities to lack of food in societies.

The subtitle of her text is ‘Journeys with Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan [SKMS] and Parakh Theatre.’ The former, as its name connotes for those who understand Hindi, is an Indian farmers’ and labourers’ organization where the average earner has income well below the poverty line. Nagar’s book is thoroughly researched, as befits any worthy academic endeavour, and the bibliography is particularly useful, paying homage to erudite minds such as Hannah Arendt and Judith Butler. As indeed is the glossary at the end of the text.

Unapologetically feminist, egalitarian-minded, a social activist and a committed believer in the power of art to change and shape lives, Nagar situates her discourse in a milieu of what she terms post-oppositionality. In other words, her book goes far beyond the binaries of difference inherent in racial, socio-political, and sexual politics. Her agenda appears to be that of expressing how creativity in general and dramatic performance in particular expose one to becoming radically vulnerable: this state of being enables one to rethink the world on one’s own terms and conditions.

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