Danka Nama #11 – a people’s history – a people’s culture

Dear friends of Danka, shapers of history, formers of culture,

excuse our hiatus for the last many weeks. Laden with other work and trying to get the Danka-Nama site to a user-friendly level our abilities to share, formulate and theorize were limited. We have grappled with the technical issues and brought the site to a form we feel comfortable enough to take it ahead. Please do leave us your suggestions.
With two recent statements, let me briefly reconsider where and why we want to take the Danka-Nama further as a platform for exchange.

As Syed Jaffar Ahmed said at the recent Karachi Literature Festival, a people’s history of Pakistan needs to be written – by the people, rather than just by Anatol Lieven, Imran Khan and Hafeez Saeed. These latter voices are what shapes a virtual understanding of the country to a large part. They may hold some truths, but just their truths distort the reality. We are not setting out to write the history of the country. But debating its culture, finding a definition for ‘culture of/in Pakistan’ is a big part of it I believe.

With the recent nomination of Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s film for an Oscar, I read somewhere a comment that is voiced often, in and outside Pakistan – positive stories need to be told about the country. I disagree. While PTCD may consider rethinking their marketing direction to look for their own IncrediblePakistan! moment rather than a pop-up bismillah we should not aim to bring out the positive sides, but what we see and experience this country’s culture to be. Whether that is positive, negative or simply up for debate is a different issue. We can do that with the confidence, that the overly pessimistic picture the country is often associated with does not represent reality. Just sorting out the feel good stories is not going to shift that picture however, but look very much desperate.

We hope that the Danka-Nama will be part of the platform to shape (at least on the net), a realistic picture of Pakistan when it comes to its culture. And we are excited to present you some views by Danka’s users and active cultural activists in the coming weeks, and look forward to your contributions coming in.

Jakob

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