Reasons for consideration:
Discussions of the left in South Asia tend to dominate on the North--in English, Hindi and Urdu--and to draw upon the experiences of groups such as the Progressive Writers. Politico-literary attention to/from the South and Tamil Nadu tends to gravitate towards regional party focus (Dravidian Movement and subsequent political developments). In this proposal, we seek to geographical, linguistically, and politically diversify our understandings of the South Asian left.
Cemmalar has a rich literary and graphic tradition, while Markcist Mata Italkalai reveals the inner workings of the Communist Party. Alongside content such as Nalupu (in Telugu), these Tamil journals will allow researchers of South India to explore the literary and political past and present of the progressive left in South India.
Francis Cody, Associate Professor of Anthropology & Asian Institute, and the Director of the David Chu Program in Contemporary Asian Studies at the University of Toronto shares that
“Making Cemmalar and Markcist Mata Italkalai widely available to scholars will not only change our understanding of the Left in Tamil Nadu. It will provide a much-needed perspective on wider issues in Tamil and Indian politics that has been under-represented in research in Tamil and will furthermore enable a better appreciation for the role of the Left in the development of modern Tamil literature. My own research on the Arivoli Iyakkam mass literacy movement and associated trends in Tamil literature would have benefited greatly from such a collection.”
We are fortunate in this project that the CPI(M) TNSC has already granted us permission to digitize these materials. It is rare for SAMP and SAOA projects to reformat material still in copyright and as such, this project is an important chronological intervention in the SAMP and SAOA corpus as both journals under consideration run right up to the contemporary moment, namely 2020 and 2021 respectively.
If this project is successful, we anticipate that the CPI(M) TNSC will grant us similar permissions to digitize their holdings of the journal Tikkatir for the years 1978-1993 (the added expense would need a separate, future proposal).
Communist Party of India (Marxist) Tamilnadu State Committee