Silk Routes Local Projects

Emerging from a conversation that began at the Maldives Symposium in March 2014, Silk Routes participants have developed bi-lateral and multi-lateral Local Projects centered on writing that engage youth, strengthen creative networks, and promote creative collaboration.  More details and project materials will be posted as each project develops.    

Afghanistan

Farkhonda Rajabe
Short Story Competition
August 2014-October 2014
 

Despite a creative writing culture within Afghani universities, many young writers remain silenced—either lacking access to publishing opportunities or fearful to share their ideas. The purpose of this project is to create a short story competition which focuses on Afghani heritage and that of the historic region known as the Ariana Empire, a region that connected both culturally and economically with more expansive Silk Routes. The competition will be amongst students at nine universities throughout Afghanistan as a way of encouraging a broader literary community geared towards emerging writers, uncovering new Afghani literary talents, and providing a space of collaboration, trust, and creativity. Once the competition committee selects several up-and-coming writers, who will become members of the Partaw Cultural House, they will all come together for an awards ceremony and literary festival. Afghanistan desperately needs to hear the voices and ideas of its youth and the Short Story Competition intends to work towards securing opportunities and safe literary communities for young Afghani writers.

India

Dr. Kavery Nambisan and Sridala Swami
Humanising Medicine. Through Past and Present.
September 2014-August 2016
 

With technological and skills-oriented changes in the medical profession, graduating doctors today have little in the way of interpersonal skills or multidisciplinary perspectives regarding the human condition. With this in mind, the purpose of this project is to bring a variety of speakers—writers, artists, film makers, musicians, and historians—to St. John’s Medical College as a way of inculcating humane values, enhancing the sensitivity of medical students, and developing a vibrant regional network of multi-talented, multi-disciplinary, and multi-faceted doctors and other professionals who feel strongly about the need for collaboration between the humanities and medical fields. Speakers will discuss a variety of issues, including medical histories of interconnectedness and cultural exchange along the former Silk Routes. Through engaging budding doctors and encouraging creative thinking, the project intends to enrich—not challenge—the contemporary medical profession in India. 

Kyrgyzstan

Jamby Djusubalieva
Djailoo Reading 
July 2014- September 2014
 
“Djailoo” in traditional Kyrgyz culture is a fundamental concept, embodying the summer pasture and grazing, where every year during warm period Kyrgyz nomads move their families and yurt homes. “Djailoo” occurs not only out of economic necessity, but also as a life-space and cultural practice that encourages free time and exploration for children.  The precarious situation in contemporary Kyrgyzstan affects youth and hinders their access to education and books. Djailoo Reading, therefore, seeks to bring live readings and discussion—hosted by writers and/or actors—to ten remote communities in the Osh and Issyk-kul regions. These live readings, which will be recorded, will then air throughout the school-year on Public Channel OTRK, creating a pilot TV program that promotes a culture of reading, regional collaboration and exchange.
 

Nepal 

Amma Raj Joshi, PhD
Recording Oral Folk Narratives along the Silk Routes
August 2014-January 2015
 

The northern Himalayan districts of Bajhang and Darchula in far western Nepal bordering Tibet still have  rich oral traditions that tell fascinating tales about human life and death, happiness and sadness, love and hate, along with rich details about societal customs, rituals, economies, cross border relations, and the hazards accrued by the difficult topography of the region.  Like many oral stories today, threatened by the erosion of traditional cultural practices and languages, these stories are on the verge of disappearance and with the changing landscape of Nepal and the rise in the tendency of linguistic code switching, there is a strong possibility that younger generations will discontinue such oral traditions. The goal of this project, therefore is to record these folk narratives, engaging local youth in such endeavors in order to bridge the generational divides, and subsequently the publication of an archive, which will ensure the continuation of such longstanding traditions and stories. 

Suvani Singh
La.Lit: The Translation Series
August 2014-July 2015
 
The Translation Series will be a special volume of La.Lit, a literary magazine that seeks to engage a broad community through literature and art. The overarching goal of the series is to promote regional literary exchange amongst diverse linguistic groups through the translation of works into English, which is understood as the most common language shared amongst Silk Route countries and is, despite its problems, perhaps the best medium for the sharing of stories and experiences. La.Lit’s editorial team will work with young writers and translators from various Silk Route countries in order to produce four texts from the region to be published in La.Lit and to strengthen the translation skills of young writers. The translation series will set the first stones for a space and network for such a multilingual and transnational dialogue. 
 
Pakistan
 
Shandana Minhas and Bilal Tanweer
Silk Route Residency 
August 2014-February 2015
 
The Silk Route Residency will be a 2-week rotating residency open to writers from any country legendary traveler Ibn Battuta passed through and noted in his memoir. This first residency will take place in February 2015 in Pakistan, where the resident will spend time in Karachi and Lahore. In each city, the writing resident will conduct a 2-3 day writing workshop for young writers, participate in numerous literary and cultural events such as attend the Karachi Literature Festival, and engage with local writers and artists. The writer will also maintain a blog on the Silk Routes website.  The goal of this residency is to strengthen and build regional networks for literary practitioners, enriching creative and cultural exchanges.  
 
Sri Lanka 
 
Ameena Hussein
Trailing Ibn Battuta: A journey through modern day Sri Lanka revisiting the sites written about by Ibn Battuta
October 2014-December 2015
 
In 1325 at the age of 22, Ibn Battuta, the great Moroccan traveler, left his home in Tangier for pilgrimage.  He covered 117,000 km and travelled as far as China, even making his way to Sri Lanka in 1344. While in Sri Lanka, he traversed ten cities from the north western to southern regions—climbing the holy mountain, Adam’s Peak (or Sri Pada), venturing to Galle, the famous world heritage city of today, and stopping by Colombo before returning to where he initially landed in Pattalam. Battuta’s observations reveal a unique account of 14th century Sri Lankan society, geography, and politics. The world has changed vastly since this time and this project’s purpose is to follow Battuta’s Sri Lankan route, noting the differences and similarities since his time of travel. Lastly, the project will examine Battuta’s legacy in Sri Lanka and share the project’s outcomes with youth throughout Sri Lanka. 
 
 

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