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Ananke Women in Literature Festival to create a narrative of harmonious inclusion by celebrating literati from the Global South

Ananke #WLF2022 will examine challenges in the publishing landscape from distribution, to censorship and focus on topics including literary agents, the Metaverse, disabilities and more

The second edition of Ananke’s Women in Literature Festival will be held digitally on March 31st and April 1st, 2022. The two-day, online event plans to celebrate independent publishers, writers, poets, literary agents as well as connoisseurs of the written word especially from the Global South. With the theme,Rethinking Paper, Ink & Gender, the event opens up dialogue on publishing and the written word at the intersections of gender, feminist literary activism, innovation, biases, sustainability, linguistic identity, corporatization in publishing, the Metaverse and more.

Leading voices from across the literary landscape are all set to share their views about fictionalizing women’s lived experiences at the second edition of Ananke’s much celebrated Women In Literature Festival 2022 (#WLF2022).

The festival will explore and examine one of the foremost challenges in the publishing landscape which is distribution. Not only does it deny (small and/or independent) booksellers and publishers access to readers (and vice versa), it creates a void that is often filled with big conglomerates stepping in. On the face of it, this might seem like the right (read: easy) solution with decreased distribution costs as well as efficient ordering practices; among other things. But there is another side of the story that leans not just towards monopolistic tendencies which is the direct result of corporatization. One of the session focusing this theme, Colonialism in Publishing, will also look at the demise of Westland Books, what it means and symbolizes.

Another panel on Censorship and Womenwill take stock of the literary landscape – especially the Global South, how complicit are movers and shakers of literature when it comes to a lack of protest against this gender-based censorship, vitriol and abuse? Is there a gender link to remaining silent and not dissenting against suppression? What are the impact and consequences of censorship on women’s mobility and freedom of expression?

While women are being published, their lived as well as imagined experiences are being highlighted – to some extent – censorship is one socio-political notion that impacts women more than anyone. Gender-based censorship is truly essential to patriarchy, it is witnessed at home and community levels and goes beyond. It certainly does not preclude the written word – in fact silencing women creating content – from the likes of Nawal el Saadawi, Taslima Nasrin, Rana Ayyub to even the slain Qandeel Baloch in the name of honor – has seen an amplification in recent times. The session on Censorship will question whether gender and/or race-based censorship is more pervasive than organized suppression?

Ananke’s Women In Literature Festival also envisions to explore, interpret, understand as well as acknowledge the existence of a diverse range of feminisms which are equally valid. This is perhaps an attempt at undoing some of the errors of older privileged dominant caste and class feminists who chose to speak (or write) for everyone and subsume diverse experiences in their own, hence ending up rendering them invisible.

This session titled Rediscovering Feminisms will unpack the now oftentimes asked question “Is mainstream feminism overlooking ‘other’ women?” and why so. What is privilege and its impact on feminism and the cause of gender equality? And most importantly, the discussion will also focus on globalization and the notion of importing Western feminism?

Talking about her participating at the festival, Yoda Press author Ikroop Sandhu said: “I am delighted to be a part of the second edition of the Dubai based literature festival ‘Ananke’ which celebrates women writers and publishers. It is essential to have a distinct platform for the women of South Asia which encourages a clear and open dialogue around gender, inclusivity and diversity. I am excited to be able to access the rich and diverse voices of talented and accomplished women from across this region.”

The event will also focus on the need and gaps in diversity in children’s literature, innovative storytelling treatments and the power of illustration, thematic strains that are both underscored and silenced in children’s stories, and the importance of raising readers, in an age smitten by technology.

Ananke’s founder and executive editor, Sabin Muzaffar shared her thoughts about WLF2022: “This event is a reaffirmation of the appeal of creativity and how the love for the written word is universal, powerful and beyond borders. How it brings everyone together! It is about democratizing this landscape. It is about listening and sharing a platform to create a narrative of harmonious inclusion, leaving no one behind and initiating impact through meaningful dialogue. I am deeply touched and honored that eminent names from across the world are gracing this event, taking time out and so enthusiastic about sharing their wisdom. This is what we envisioned all along: to create a platform without the politically correct name tags, or gatekeeping. I invite everyone to join us in celebration.”

The event will be livestreamed on Ananke’s Facebook page with the option of attending the festival via Zoom as well. Zoom registrations will commence on March 10th, 2022.

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