The third edition of Ananke’s Women in Literature Festival will open its virtual doors tomorrow with Feminist Publishing House Zubaan Books’ founder Urvashi Butalia unveiling the festival with a special keynote. Day Two headlining keynote will feature renderings by Seagull Books’ founder Naveen Kishore on Theatre and Memory.
The Women in Literature Festival is an online event launched in 2021 by Ananke, a digital media and development platform. The organization, and by extension the event, envisions to initiate meaningful conversations about the written word, publishing, diversity, empowerment, innovation, social justice (and more) in the virtual world – our parallel reality! The events that took place in 2021 and 2022, were the first of their kind across the MENA and South Asia regions. More information about this year’s festival can be found here.
Just to explain the festival’s core values: The common thread in all our current, as well as future endeavors, would be an attempt to provide a balanced and unbiased platform that welcomes and celebrates diverse opinions and voices, heterodoxy in pursuit of a common truth, and freedom of speech for all those who want to engage in nuanced and meaningful conversation. While striving to be a safe space for the marginalized who need it, we will do our best to not become silos that further factionalize the world and alienate one another. We believe that the best solutions to the problems our world faces would come from truly open and inclusive platforms that afford a latitude for all ranges and levels of opinions, as long as the objective of the discussion infrastructure is met – which is finding balanced and practical solutions and answers.
The event unveils a stellar lineup of sessions from fireside chats featuring Professor Ziba Mir Hosseini, Dr. Sofia Rehman on Gender Equality in Islam. Talking about the session, Professor Ziba said: “I am happy to be part of this, which exemplifies what Paul Ricoeur said: “The only way that we can come to knowledge is through dialogue;” I would add that it is through conversations that we can hope to achieve an inclusive and egalitarian way of being in the world. – Ziba Mir-Hosseini
Other fireside sessions include a conversation between, Isabel Cole, Sulagna Mukhopadhyay, Radhika Maira Tabrez, Farahnaz Ispahani, Mehr Hussain, Dr. Hassan Abbas, Rachel Thomas, Nilanjana Bhowmick, Dr Shantha Mohan, Amna Zuberi.
Keynote sessions will feature Readomania’ Dipankar Mukherjee, Ushah Kazi, Nilanjana Bhowmick, Usman T Malik, Lamiya Sami and Francesca Recchia.
Talking about her participation, author Chetna Keer who is chairing a Readomania Panel said: “I look forward to another season of engaging conversations, this time on “Women In Literature & Women in Reality” at Ananke WLF 2023. Hoping protagonist “Lollita” of my literary fiction, “Giddha On My Gulmohar, that mirrors and maps the shifting litfest landscapes, finds resonance in the writerly voices. Big shoutout to Sabin Muzaffar and Team ANANKE for the diversity and inclusivity of the lineup for Season 2023 of this global litfest.”
Long time partners, Readomania will be hosting three panels: The Power of Womanhood with guests, Harshali Singh Mona Verma Rachel Thomas; chaired by Aashisha Chakrabortyas well as Navigating the Future with Monica Bhatkande Smita Das Jain, Archana Sarat, chaired by Anupama Jain on Day 1, April 11th, 2023. The third session will be held on day 2, April 12th titled Women in Literature vs Women in Reality with Anupama Jain, Anuradha Ramachandran, Shalini Mullick, chaired by Chetna Keer.
Readomania author, Anuradha Ramachandran noted: “Running a home requires a host of skills like manpower management, creativity, financial acumen, general awareness/knowledge and good old common sense which is intangible at home but draws a fat salary in a corporate environment.”
Adding to this, another Readomania author, Smita Das Jain, said: “By weaving stories that transcend time and space, writers can illuminate the path towards a more hopeful and enlightened future. Excited to discuss with my fellow writer panelists at the Ananke Women in Literature Festival 2023 how through our words we can inspire readers to dream, to question, and to imagine a world that is yet to be.”
A special session – In the Spotlight – will celebration cross cultural collaboration between India and Pakistan in the form of publishing Seagull Books’ Founder Naveen Kishore’s Urdu translation by Zuka Books. The conversation features Naveen Kishore, Mehr Husain – Founder Zuka Books, Hammad Rind – who has translated the Urdu version and Minhaj Ahmed Ravi, the Urdu version book’s illustrator. The session will be broadcast on Day 1 in the evening.
In addition to this, another highlight of the event is a chat celebrating 15 years of UAE’s much respected Emirates Festival of Literature. The session features Assistant Festival Director and Head of Programming at the Emirates Literature Foundation, Tamreez Inam with host Saba Karim Khan.
Talking about her participation, Tamreez said: “I am pleased to participate in the 3rd Ananke Women in Literature Festival. The festival is a great opportunity to support women’s narratives and the diversity of voices in the literary space, particularly those from the Global South. As a Foundation, we believe in nurturing a literary ecosystem in the UAE that promotes reading and the exchange of ideas and dialogue. Through the programming for our various initiatives, including the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, we are committed to providing entertaining and informative content and bringing together the best local and international minds together to shed light on themes and issues that matter. By participating in the Women in Literature festival, I hope to contribute to that exchange of ideas on a global level and connect with other like-minded individuals who share the same passion.”
Covering a diverse set of themes, other panels include topics such as Rise of the Graphic Novel with Arpita Das, Sadhna Prasad, Chandri Kumar, Bandand Tulachan, hosted by Sabin Muzaffar and Rethinking Romance featuring Sara Naveed, Tasneem Abdur Rashid, Minaal Mohsin, hosted by Sara Danial.
Talking about her participation, Nepalese illustrator, Bandana Tulachan said: “I am very excited to be a part the Women in Literature Festival 2023 and getting to share my work in this platform. It is always a pleasure to discover new artists, authors, and thinkers so I look forward to hearing from the speakers and being thoroughly inspired.”
Lamiya Sami, a keynote speaker at the event and a final year Ph.D. student at the University of Strathclyde, also noted: “Envision a world where humans do not hold a central position in the universe, and where ethics prioritize equality on a profound level. A world that fosters empathy towards nonhuman others and promotes biocentric egalitarianism. This is a posthuman world that reconceptualizes humanity’s place in the world and acknowledges the agency of all beings that exist. This keynote posits a new understanding of a ‘more than human’ world, particularly in the time of the Anthropocene and explores the themes of climate change, animal rights, traditional ethical frameworks, the impact of human activities on the planet and more.”
The event will be live-streamed on Ananke’s Facebook page – @anankemag with the option to participate in all live sessions via Zoom. To attend the session, email: email@example.com (please write: Zoom registration in the subject line).
All of Ananke’s main illustrations have been created by Indian illustrator Nakiya Nava, Irania artist Sara Shoghi as well as Ananke’s Empower Program’s fellows. More information about the illustrators can be found in the Festival Booklet, found here.