Proposed themes for this year’s upcoming issues
Vol. 31 No. 1 – March 30, 2018
Theme: My Heritage is Bigger than Yours
Submission due date: Jan 30 2018
Deeply recessed within the discussion on systemic racism (and the accompanying debate on rising xenophobia and Islamophobia) is the tacit notion that, after all things said and done, western civilisation was almost a welcome historical and cultural necessity – some sort of a natural but burdensome journey that white colonisers had to reluctantly resort to and bear on their shoulders (as amply illustrated by the works of the rogue story-teller, Rudyard Kipling).
After all, western civilisation was a direct result of the enormous industrial modernisation and expansion that Europe had undertaken in its various empires, purportedly on behalf of humanity. This framework of superiority (combining racism and sexualisation of colonial violence and then using troops of colour during the World Wars and, until recently, in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan) has become deeply entrenched and is now also accompanied by a liberal whitewashing technique that, in the face of repeated setbacks, proposes a superiority of intellectuality.
France and its exalted notions of its laïcité is a prime example of that navel-gazing superiority complex that tries to use secularism as an antidote to the fightback against this colonialist assumption of intellectual superiority. The sword of secularism that falls hard on errant immigrants is a telling example, as is the emotional engagement of the general population through the sale of red poppies for Remembrance Day.
In a recent piece in The Guardian, Pankaj Mishra says, “In 1917, the US president, Woodrow Wilson, baldly stated his intention, “to keep the white race strong against the yellow” and to preserve “white civilisation and its domination of the planet.”
Thus, “my civilisation is stronger than yours, my heritage is bigger than yours” is a refrain that resounds implicitly nowadays, without the need to spell it out.
We invite writers, artists, essayists and cartoonists to seize the opportunity and expand on this theme in the forthcoming issue of Montréal Serai.
Vol. 30 No. 4 – January 5, 2018
Theme: The Literature Issue: Spirit
Submission due date: November 15 or January 15th
The spirit is an indestructible state of non-being. It lingers on, intangible but sensorial. It is not always eternal, but when it is encountered it is imperishable. Being restless, youthful, challenging … being pushy, being inspiring, remaining alive when death has taken its toll—that is spirit. Spirit is courage, guts, fighting the power, speaking truth to power. Spirit could be uncompromising, but it could also be compromising when necessary. Spirit is doing things quietly, unnoticed and yet invoking an indomitable energy for what you believe in.
Spirit is keeping the essence of a subject alive. In war or peace, spirit is spelling out the truth. In controversial times, as now, spirit is uncovering the root cause and not just playing around with the exterior emotions, obvious fatuousness and surface volatility.
Keeping this theme in mind, we are inviting artists, writers, reviewers, poets, musicians and their sidekicks to submit what they would consider à propos. Please note the deadline date of November 15th for the main issue and January 15th for the booster pieces.
The deadline dates are stated above.
Themes for this year’s past issues
Vol. 30 No. 2 – June 30, 2017
Submission due date: June 1 and July 15
A substantial number of Montréal Serai’s friends and subscribers find themselves in a precarious state. Once they were full-time employed artists, teachers, translators, trainers, blue and white collar workers. Now they have part-time jobs or contract work. No social coverage, no bargaining rights. Every month and year, they have to hustle for contracts, grants, and limited time assignments. The government announced that last month there were 240,000 jobs created in Canada. What they did not announce was that the majority of the jobs were part-time, temporary jobs. We are living in precarious times. Ever since the advent of globalization, there is a new definition of “jobs.” It is called doing a “gig.” A lot of people buy into this false predicament as an inevitable state of evolution of the market place and technology.
The precariat is a social class formed by people suffering from precarity. The word itself has only recently crept into dictionaries. It is a portmanteau of proletariat and precarious. It is an unpredictable state, defined by insecurity and lack of continuity. It is a monstrous state of demoralizing the working artists and the poorer sections of the middle class as well as the “deskilled” working class. Neo-liberalism is not just about the export of skilled jobs overseas, it is also about destroying arts and the dissemination of scientific cognizance. It leaves us all in a precarious state. There are so many categories of people affected by the casualization of work, and women, immigrant workers and unskilled workers have been particularly hard hit, historically. And disgruntled white male newer recruits to the precariat seem to be driving a lot of the neo-fascist, anti-immigrant, racist and misogynist movements now, although that may be a whole other discussion. A post on Wikipedia amplifies the meanings associated with the precariat. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precariat
We are inviting articles, essays, reviews (films and books) on this new state of the economy and its cultural impact on writers, artists, filmmakers, poets and performers and all those who once had permanent jobs and must now eke out a living.
Vol. 30 No. 3 – September 30, 2017
Theme: Unholy Alliances
Submission due date: August 15 or October 15
Unholy Alliances, Puritanism or General Tao Chicken
When does one feel completely committed to an emotion? When does one feel confident about reaching a conclusion? When does a position come out of a pure conviction? When are emotional and political alliances based on compromises or even opportunistic trade-offs? When does an alliance make no sense, even though on the surface it may?
One could be entirely reductionist, and naïve notions of alliances and preferences can either be dismissed or we can build upon puritanical notions of religion, military strategy or politics. Or, we can throw everything into a wok! Cauliflower Mongolian is neither Mongolian, nor Indian but supposedly a favorite at Indian restaurants, just as General Tao’s Chicken is not known by the inhabitants of Changsha, Hunan, but is supposedly of Hunanese cuisine. What “tastes” good is perfectly legitimate and “holy.”
In a recent discussion with one of Serai’s contributors, he cited the example of a neighbour who was gay and feminist and was simultaneously fiercely indépendantiste – somebody who is firmly convinced that Québec’s best interests lie in separating from Canada. Thus, the precept is that this person is not your average conservative. According to our friend, he is a progressive conversationalist, has the Québec flag up on his balcony, as well as the flag of les patriotes. However, while watching news on the web, he was surprised to find the same neighbour standing on the dais, during a recent rally staged by an Islamophobic group.
There is love and there is hate. Intense love can kindle hatred. There are folks whose crimes are fuelled by love. But in doing so, they propose a religious argument or a social acceptance criteria to build unholy alliances. In India, certain aboriginal tribes have found reasons to align themselves with extreme Hindu chauvinists against so-called “lower castes” to either “protect cows” or retaliate against those who are known to be scavenger castes! The poor and disinherited have essentially aligned themselves with an illiterate nouveau riche!
In the geo-political context, religious extremists have combined with each other quite openly to thwart adverse possibilities for both. So, the Israeli Mossad have repeatedly protected and supported the Iranian Mujahedden Khalq (once declared as terrorist by the US and Canada) to carry out attacks against the Iranian government. Suddenly, we find the US and its allies bombing sections of Syria in support of the Kurdish YPG, who they once called terrorist. Apparently there is a Taliban A and Taliban B. One you can collaborate with and one you can’t!
If this were not enough, the President of the US of A has signed a mega billion-dollar arms trade agreement with Saudi Arabia, a family-run nation that has been a prime sponsor of terrorism in the US itself and of wars in the immediate region.
In the social context, even in a work environment, the notion of unlikely allies is rampant. Is it because we have no scruples, no purity of emotions and always seek alliances for temporary gains?
We invite submittals on this broad thematic area. We would like to see essays, book reviews, evaluations of art and installations and media appraisals.
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