by Scott Mclaughlan
Despite being considered one of the “seven wonders of the world”, the Taj Mahal was bizarrely absent from a tourism booklet produced this summer by the state government of Uttar Pradesh (UP). Completed between 1631 and 1648, the Taj Mahal is perhaps the finest existing example of Mughal architecture, considered ‘the jewel of Muslim art in India’, in 1983 it was designated a UNESCO world heritage site.
Its international prestige notwithstanding, a storm has been brewing around the famous monument: it has been the scene of regular protests and the focus of an increasingly prominent political campaign to marginalise its national and cultural significance.Continue Reading
by Stu Lucy
What with the circulation of fake news becoming increasingly more prevalent, sometimes you read an article and feel the need to double check its authenticity. But this one came from the BBC, and The New York Post were running it too. The Independent. Newsweek. CNN. So it must be true. I am of course talking about the news that Robert Mugabe, the authoritarian nonagenarian head of state of Zimbabwe, had recently been appointed goodwill ambassador for the World Health Organisation (WHO). Mugabe, really?Continue Reading
by Carmina Masoliver
Since the reign of Al-Hakam II, who ruled from 961 to 976, Córdoba has been considered a centre for education after a plethora of libraries and universities were opened. Just recently, a new statue was erected in the city centre, which is full of beautiful statues, making an already picturesque city even more so. This particular one seems another symbol for education – with a woman holding open a newspaper. As a language teacher, it’s also a little-known fact that Córdoba has one of the highest concentrations of language schools.
Córdoba is also the largest urban area declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the main attractions is the Mesquita, the Mosque-Cathedral. I found out about the city’s rich history from a free walking tour, where we stood outside the building. But I was able to go inside for free, deciding to wake up early one morning. Having just come to Spain after travelling in South East Asia, I was reminded of the grandness of such places of worship.Continue Reading
by Zoe Harding
Nearly every building in east Mostar bears war wounds. Tumbledown ruins stud the streets like broken teeth. The imposing concrete hulk of an abandoned bank juts into the sky over midtown, surrounded by parks and covered in graffiti. The famous Old Bridge over the river Neretva is notable both for its beauty and the fact that these marks are absent. Destroyed in 1993 by Croat tanks, the Old Bridge is one of the few things in this wounded city that has been properly rebuilt.
UNESCO plaques stud Old Town, listing countries that donated money to rebuild the bridge and the surrounding areas. It was a tourist landmark before the war, and it feels like the only part of Mostar the world really cares about — certainly, there doesn’t seem to be any money to clear the minefields on the surrounding hillsides, or to treat Bosnia’s tens of thousands of post-war PTSD victims. Tourists don’t visit them, after all, so it’s not like the spirit of international co-operation applies in the way it does to the pretty scenery in Old Town.Continue Reading
by Jack Brindelli
As the dust continues to settle on soon to be post-EU Britain, I’ve been thinking a lot about the place I call home. Norwich has been my city for quarter of a century now, and as my Granny says of such milestones, “You get less time for murder.” Norwich is infamously disconnected from the world, with visiting football fans often singing “there’s only one road in Norfolk” to Guantanamera at Carrow Road – and as much as it pains me to admit it, the isolation is a real problem.
The fact we’re so cut off from outsiders rubs off on our city’s attitudes towards culture in particular – with a quintessentially Little England village-mentality that boasts of being an UNESCO City of Literature in a town perpetually threatening its libraries with cuts, and renders us fiercely defensive of our ‘doing different’ status-quo, who year on year wheel out the same tired Lord Mayor’s procession, Castle firework display, and cover-band music festival, while remaining collectively suspicious, and sometimes even hostile to new ideas.
by Rebecca Tamás
This man is an angel
he is not a man
I reject the penis as my chosen ontology
even when his penis is in my hand
even when his mouth is open like a sodden
by Ananyaa Bhowmik
“Do you think mother‐tongue is a patriotic idea?”
“Of course it is”
“Well, we happen to live in a state where the regions were divided according to language. Can you feel patriotic towards your region in a country like India? Patriotism is an inclusive concept, while mother‐tongue gives you identity when identity politics is played. It isolates. It is a constant struggle between feeling proud of your mother‐tongue while being included. By the way…”
“‘Mother’ Tongue is a Patriotic concept. A conundrum, don’t you think?”
In light of recent events in JNU, and being part of a University (Jadavpur) that is one of the greatest supporters of those “anti‐nationalists”, it is perhaps amusing to note that I am attempting to discuss as patriotic – or nationalistic, even – an idea as mother‐tongue, in occasion of UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day. The University ground is a battlefield as each group tries to define what being a patriot actually means. Cries of “Vande Mataram” (All hail the Mother) ring out. In a country that has forever been portrayed as the Mother Goddess ‐ an object of devotion that is inaccessible, idolized, rigid and unchanging; a mere bearer of children, stripped of any other form of identity, in a burning country where youthful souls struggle to establish individual identities and right to choice, I sit writing on mother‐tongue. Mother‐tongue, which made me a Bengali, all because of a mere genetic accident. And where it all really began.Continue Reading