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The text of this pamphlet was written in December 2022, based on a lecture given earlier at the invitation of the Institute of Palestine Studies. Since then, the relationship between Israel and India has deepened further. Meanwhile, atrocities have skyrocketed in both countries. On 5 April 2023, Israeli forces stormed Al Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem and attacked worshippers inside. As we go to press (May 2023), Israel is ruthlessly bombing Gaza and targeting Palestinian women and young children while settlers are going on killing sprees in Palestinian villages in the West Bank. At the same time, Israel is facing internal turmoil in a battle between a diverse group, including those who think the current settler colony is a democratic nation and want things to remain as they are, and those who stand even further to the right. Significantly, the BJP, India’s ruling party, supports the latter.
Meanwhile, India, too, has seen a horrific escalation of violence. Not a day passes without Muslims being killed, young children brutally beaten up and humiliated, Mosques being burnt down or attacked, and homes being destroyed. At the same time and on a very different note, Gautam Adani and his Adani Group, which has long bankrolled the Modi regime, have been exposed as perpetrating the biggest fraud in corporate history. Once the third richest man in the world, Gautam Adani’s family fortune has continued to plummet and is currently only 50% of what it once was. However, despite projects falling through, stock and bond prices continuing to fall, and lenders leaving in droves, the one international figure who has continued to stand by him and publicly acclaim him is Netanyahu. The Haifa Port deal … Is going ahead as planned.
The subject of this pamphlet is Zionism, the ideology of the Israeli apartheid state and Hindutva, the ideology which drives the Hindu-supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In this era of rising fascism, these two remarkably similar ideologies are crucially important in cementing the economic and military alliance between two of the world’s most repressive right-wing states – while helping to legitimize them in cultural arenas. Israel is, of course, a settler colonial state, but it is also, like India, a fascist state, not only because of ‘the extremist parties that [are] part of the government’ but also because of ‘their enablers – Netanyahu and his chauvinistic Likud party which long strove for a Jewish state dominating both sides of the Jordan River’. In the words of Marwan Bishara, Netanyahu is ‘the godfather of modern Israeli fascism’. This essay focuses primarily on Hindutva, discussing Zionism mainly to highlight its similarities, links and increasing alliances with Hindutva.
First published in 1978, and winning the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize for that year, Finding a Voice established a new discourse on South Asian women’s lives and struggles in Britain. Through discussions, interviews and intimate one-to-one conversations with South Asian women, in Urdu, Hindi, Bengali and English, it explored family relationships, the violence of immigration policies, deeply colonial mental health services, militancy at work and also friendship and love. The seventies was a time of some iconic anti-racist and working-class struggles. They are presented here from the point of view of the women who participated in and led them.
This new edition includes a preface by Meena Kandasamy, some historic photographs, and a remarkable new chapter titled ‘In conversation with Finding a Voice: 40 years on’ in which younger South Asian women write about their own lives and struggles weaving them around those portrayed in the book.
An amazing review of the book can be read here: https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2023/03/03/book-review-amrit-wilson-finding-a-voice-asian-women-in-britain/
Here is an extract:
This book is a call to collective action and sisterhood, a memorial and an instruction to keep going. In her Reflections, Wilson points out White feminists need to let Asian women work on their own problems while standing in support, not intrude and try to sort their issues out for them, and the valuable material she gathers in this book is indeed because she was part of the communities she was studying, speaking to the women in their kitchens in their own languages. I was so pleased to be able to revisit this wonderful work. – Lix Dexter @LyzzyBee_Libro
A great interview with Amrit Wilson in Montreal Serai (October 4, 2020).
‘This book is a wonderful, important and necessary reminder of all the black feminist work behind us and all that is left to do.’ —Sara Ahmed, feminist writer and independent scholar, and author of Living a Feminist Life
‘Finding a Voice acquires a new significance in this neoliberal era…an indispensable archive as well as a narrative of a past that is not past but reactivated and recast…’ —Kumkum Sangari, William F.Vilas Research Professor of English and the Humanities, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
‘A ground-breaking book, as relevant today as it was in the seventies – and evidence, if ever such were needed, that the struggles of Asian, African and Caribbean women remain inextricably linked.’ —Stella Dadzie, founder member of OWAAD and author of Heart of the Race
‘Finding a Voice… was affirmation that our lives mattered, that our experiences with all their cultural complexities, mattered.’ —Meera Syal, British comedian, writer, playwright, singer, journalist, producer and actress.
‘This new edition comes at a time…when we are experiencing the growth of the surveillance state and when our narratives are being co-opted and used against us. Finding a Voiceis not only welcome, it is necessary.’ — Marai Larasi, Director, Imkaan; Co-Chair of UK’s End Violence Against Women Coalition.
Amrit Wilson is a writer and activist on issues of race and gender in Britain and South Asian politics. She is a founder member of South Asia Solidarity Group and the Freedom Without Fear Platform, and board member of Imkaan, a Black, South Asian and minority ethnic women’s organisation dedicated to combating violence against women in Britain. She was a founder member of Awaz and an active member of OWAAD. She is author, amongst other books, of Dreams Questions Struggles—South Asian women in Britain (Pluto Press 2006) and The Challenge Road: Women and the Eritrean revolution (Africa World Press 1991). The first edition of Finding a Voice: Asian Women in Britain won the the Martin Luther King Jr award.
It is the impact of oppression, racism and class which unifies South Asian women and the book comes at a time where we see the continued rise of the far right, misogyny, issues of class and the gig economy here and across the globe being played out in the media and perpetuated by male leaders going unchallenged by the state.
These new voices confirm how groundbreaking the book has been as a reference point for south Asian women now through listening to the voices of women from four decades ago, honouring their contribution and speaking in solidarity with them. As Wilson says in her introduction, it “reclaims our collective past as an act of resistance.”
An excellent read.
‘Reclaiming our collective past’: Amrit Wilson reflects on 40 years of anti-racist feminist work
By Sophia Siddiqui ARCHIVESPOLITICS 30th October 2018