Proposed themes for this year’s upcoming issues
Vol. 31 No. 1 – Early April, 2018
Theme: My Heritage is Bigger than Yours
Submission due date: February 15, 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. 31 No. 2 – Early July, 2018
Theme: Populism and the Erasure of History
Submission due date: May 15, 2018
Populism rears its head from epoch to epoch, by appealing to gut instincts. It plays to the bleachers. It is immediately attractive. It operates in the “now.” The present. It negates the antecedents. The past. History is negated. Calixa-Lavallée, who crafted “O Canada,” included notions of “home and native land” as a statement of finality to establish the colonizing act as a benign civilizing performance. What home and what Native Land are we talking about? The Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation at Lakehead University, Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, has much to say here. (http://www.cbc.ca/2017/whose-home-and-native-land-and-can-canada-move-from-resistance-to-hope-1.4169160)
When the followers of Mr. Trump go gun(g)-ho, they wear MAGA hats. Make America Great Again. It is an anti-immigrant missive. What is negated here is that America’s greatness was built on the genocidal occupation of Native lands. America’s greatness was intimately bound by the toil of its immigrants who built its railroads, factories, bridges, shops and cities, and did research in its universities. The tallest structures on the East coast were built by the expertise of Mohawk and other Indigenous construction workers. Conservative U.S. analysts suggest that Indigenous nations had a population of 112 million in 1492 when Columbus arrived. Today, the Indigenous population in the U.S. is estimated at 5.2 million. When populists claim that “they’ve wasted the money given to them, they are alcoholic and illiterate,” they blithely overlook genocidal practices (e.g., smallpox being deliberately introduced through infected blankets, violent expropriation of Native lands and destruction of traditional livelihoods, and attempts at stripping Indigenous people of their heritage through residential schools). This is one illustration of how populism operates from a “common sense” perspective that is tantamount to erasure of the past.
Populism is not always of the alt-right variety. In other words it is not of the “Anthemic” (as in the Ayn Rand novella, Anthem) variety only. Left liberal politics also engage in identity-based populism. While not exactly pursuing an “us versus them” point of view, it indulges in narrow nationalism in the name of secularism, promoting one type of dictatorship over another. It puts an emphasis on overzealous environmentalism without understanding the trauma wreaked by colonization and underdevelopment. It is stridently identity oriented and overlooks inequality. Historical antecedents are thus bypassed or suppressed.
Vol. 31 No. 3 – Early October, 2018
Theme: Cinema – Beyond the Pale
Submission due date: August 15, 2018
The fact that Montréal Serai has been inherently engaged in the practice of reviewing and critiquing cinema requires very little assertion. A quick sampling scan (see below) – to our own surprise – shows that we have covered a lot of territory. Some of our contributors have become well-known film-makers and actors and have made excellent documentaries themselves. Maya Khankhoje, Carlos Ferrand, Pietro Ferrua, Mirella Bontempo, the late Ozzie Bartolo, Federico Hidalgo, Mark Krupa, Julian Samuel and others have covered film festivals and done interviews with cinéastes and artists.
For our third issue of the year, we have invited Dipti Gupta, film lecturer and festival organizer in Montréal, to curate the theme “Cinema – Beyond the Pale.” Dipti has done extensive research on films in India and elsewhere.
The pale, as a noun, has nothing do with the adjective used in Procol Harum’s 1967 iconic rock song, A Whiter Shade of Pale. It has to do with a method of fencing off people, land or ideas by building wooden fences to keep away outsiders, undesirables or the unknown. The best-known examples were in Ireland, but the concept of the pale also applied in English colonial settlements in France, and in Imperial Russia where the Pale was used as a way of keeping the Jewish population enclosed and contained in a limited area.
A pale is a sharp wooden stave that is roped together to make a fence. To keep out renegades, renegade filmmakers and out-of-the-box thinkers. To take an alternate view, away from the clichés that abound in Hollywood and Bollywood, and on HBO and Netflix. But sometimes even those very sources produce some really extraordinary films.
Reviewers, filmmakers, actors and directors are invited to contribute. Montréal is an international hub for the zaniest and most intelligent film festivals, and special mention must be made of the indefatigable crew at Cinema Politica at Concordia University.
Vol. 31 No. 4 – Early January, 2019
Theme: The Literature Issue: Decolonizing Voices
Submission due date: November 15, 2018
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