Brohmon (Journey)

By Walker, Amelia | Social Alternatives, January 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Brohmon (Journey)


Walker, Amelia, Social Alternatives


Brohmon is an ethnolinguistic exploration of tensions within and between Kolkata's three dominant languages - Bangla (Bengali), Hindi and English. Through narrative poetry and prose, it considers ways in which language can reflect, maintain and even create relationships of power between groups of people. The narrative draws on my experiences as an Australian poet participating in the Kolkata poetry scene in late 2007 and early 2008. The creative artefact is supported by a foreword discussing Brohmon's relationships with broader issues of language and power in diverse post/colonial and multilingual contexts.

Foreword

According to Pavlenko and Blackledge, language is 'inseparable from political arrangements, relations of power, language ideologies [and] identities' (2004, 1). Brohmon supports this claim, describing tensions within and between Kolkata's three dominant languages - Bangla (Bengali), Hindi and English. Each section relates an incident or incidents where language reflects, maintains or even creates relationships of power between groups of people. Quotations from various other creative and critical texts show these incidents to be neither contained within themselves nor peculiar to India but, rather, linked to broader issues of language and power in diverse post/colonial and / or multhingual contexts.

Writing Brohmon, I grappled with two dilemmas beyond the issues directly discussed in the work itself. The first involved questions of if and how poetry can function as academic discourse. My urge as a poet is towards subtlety, towards saying things obliquely and leaving ends open. But that urge contradicts the necessities of academia, which calls for clear arguments and strong supporting evidence. But real academics don't have urges. And they don't begin sentences with 'But'. Or 'And'. Or 1Or'. I have attempted to address this conflict through the inclusion of endnotes offering further explication of how the incidents in Brohmon connect to broader issues involving language and power. I made the choice of using endnotes, rather than inserting this text directly into the creative work, because it leaves readers free to choose if, when and how they read these explications or to ignore them and create independent ones. Endnotes are also used to clarify Bangla and Hindi terms.

My second dilemma was the work's potential to fall into the trap of what Edward Said termed orientalism - afield of writing, research and other activities that outlined basic differences between East and West, Orient and Occident (Said 1995, 2). Said argued that orientalist discourse did not only describe, but in many ways actually created conceptions of 'the Orient' as other, 'the Occident' as self, and the distinction between the two. This self / other divide supported the domination of imperialist nations such as Britain over colonised nations such as India (Said 1995, 3-5). My intention in writing this piece was not, however, to highlight the differences between India and Australia, but rather to examine issues that our two countries share in common - as do other multhingual contexts including Ireland and the Persian Gulf States. Said stressed the need to study culture's role in creating and maintaining power relationships (Said 1994, 3). I hope that Brohmon can make some small contribution towards addressing that need.

(1)

I am sitting in my parents' lounge room, opposite my mother, attempting conversation, but my eyes and thoughts keep darting:

- these sofas - that television in its huge case - filled with DVDs and electronic appendages - the coffee table - laden with after-dinner nibbles - and this lounge room - bigger than the whole flat that I call home -no- called -

'Well?' My mother's voice brims with frustration.

'Sorry... I missed what you said...'

'Will you come visit Mary's baby tomorrow?'

'What is the program?' Mum's forehead crinkles. 1I mean, what time? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Brohmon (Journey)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.