Singing to Liberation: Songs of Freedom and Nights of Resistance on Indian Campuses

Student activism and cultural activism go hand in hand on Indian campuses. Over the last few years, especially after 2014, student movements in the country against social injustice have increased in numbers and tenacity. Cultural modes of expressing dissent have played a key role within this new wave of student movements that have gripped the nation. This book takes the reader through a journey into the ways cultural activists analyse cultural modes of protest, especially in the context of student movements in the Global South. The book delves into the political and ideological contours set by organisations such as the Indian Progressive Theatre Association (IPTA) and the Progressive Writers’ Association (PWA), and by figures such as Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Habib Jalib, Hemanga Biswas and Safdar Hashmi. The book locates them within the contemporary wave of cultural protests, analyses their continued relevance and argues for a revival of theoretical and practical engagement with the early progenitors of the progressive cultural movement in India.

It would be difficult to capture in mere words the … joy of seeing young faces beaming with excitement and joy, the sense of community and togetherness as people sing together. The myth of a people so bamboozled by religion that they could not appreciate poetry, music, and performing arts lay shattered before our feet. And the myth that the people were too ground down by poverty to appreciate art and literature proved to be nothing but an elitist prejudice. We sang, we laughed, we danced, we joked with the people. We felt the walls of class, caste, privilege and hatred crumble in those moments of ecstasy. — Taimur Rahman, Associate Professor, Lahore University of Management Sciences and Lead Guitarist and Spokesperson of the Marxist Band ‘Laal’

This book is a reminder that we need to turn towards each other in revolutionary siblinghood. It is a call to revive a rich tradition of cultural activism across India and a celebration of emergent critical vibrant grassroots, people-centered student movements. Very importantly, this is also a book in the art of revolutionary dreaming, of embracing new possibility. —Ndindi Kitonga, Professor, Longy School of Music of Bard College, New York


Singing to Liberation is a highly provocative and timely work by Suddhabrata Deb Roy. The struggles, crises, violence, and resistant movements inside the university campuses in India have been openly spoken out without any unnecessary jargon and rhetoric. Each and every page of this book is a powerful archive of sociopolitical crises, censorships, and bloodshed that India is currently experiencing” – Sayan Dey, Author, Green Academia (Routledge) and Performing Memories and Weaving Archives (Anthem Press)

ISBN Print: 9781990263491
Publication Date: January 2024
Page Count: 136
Binding Type: Soft cover
Trim Size: 6in x 9n
Language: English
Colour: Black and White

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  Suddhabrata Deb Roy is a PhD. Candidate in the Department of Sociology, University of Otago. He mainly works on Marxist theory, Political Economy, Feminism and Social Movements

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