Friday, May 4, 2012

Manto Birth Centenary in New York City, 2012

This year, 2012, marks the birth centenary of Sa'adat Hasan Manto, popularly recognized as one of the greatest Urdu writers of the twentieth century. Manto is also a deeply contradictory figure who has managed to evoke strong reactions ranging from cult following to outright hostility. His bald sketches on the trauma, violence, and dehumanization of the Partition are justly celebrated today. At the same time, he has had an outsider status in the established literary histories of South Asia as he does not easily fit into conventional categories. His critiques of imperialism, his unabashed discussion of sexuality, his focus on the fringes of urban modernity, and his harsh exposés of the most celebrated film personalities of the 1930s and 40s, are not as widely discussed or circulated as they ought to be.

The Hindi and Urdu Programs at NYU, in conjunction with the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, the Kevorkian Center, and the Institute for Public Knowledge are organizing an event to both celebrate and complicate these radical and polarizing aspects of Manto's work and legacy.

Do join us for two sessions that will explore diverse aspects of Manto’s prolific career.

Manto's Bombay: Conversations on his Birth Centanary

Friday, May 11, 2012. 6pm - 8pm 
Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, New York University

“Main chalta-phirta Bambai hoon” – Sa’adat Hasan Manto, 28th October, 1951

Sa’adat Hasan Manto embarked on an intense love affair with Bombay in 1936 when he first arrived in the city as a journalist. Over the next decade he slipped into various roles in the city as writ
er, film scenarist, editor, and flâneur. This symposium looks at Manto’s relationship with Bombay by placing at the centre a collection of stories titled "Chughad". Published in 1948, "Chughad" was the last set of stories written by Manto before he moved to Lahore after the Partition. Here we see Manto playing the flâneur- chronicler who fluidly traverses multiple urban sites and picks up impressions, traces, and insights along the way. Many of these stories are set against the backdrop of the Bombay film industry and offer provocative views on gender and work in a self-consciously modernizing city.

Our panelists will come together on Manto’s birthday to digressively take up the provocations offered by "Chughad". We hope to have a discussion on alternative urban histories, the fraught work of translation, the literary radicalism of the Progressives, and mythic narratives around Bombay city, Manto, and the film industry.

Keynote Lecture (6pm)
Gyan Prakash, Dayton-Stockton Professor of History, Princeton University

Panelist Discussion (7pm)

Ali Mir, William Paterson University
Matt Reeck, New York-based Writer and Translator

Bilal Hashmi, New York University
Debashree Mukherjee, New York University
Richard Delacy, Harvard University

Rereading Manto's "Letters to Uncle Sam" in Perilous Times. With Saadia Toor
Tuesday, May 15, 2012 
6:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

Sponsored by NYU's Hindi and Urdu Programs, the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, and the Institute for Public Knowledge.

Pakistani activist Saadia Toor will lead a discussion on the contemporary relevance of the Manto's pithy and irreverent "Letters to Uncle Sam" (1951-1954), written from Lahore in the final years of the author's life, and in the shadow of the Cold War.

Matt Reeck and Aftab Ahmad will give a bilingual reading from Reeck's new English translations of Manto's Letters. Bilal Hashmi will serve as moderator and discussant.


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