By Bhaswati Ghosh, Editor-at-Large
2015 has been a year of several personal journeys for me, and as the arc of journeys goes, I’ve had to glide through the rollercoaster of challenges and milestones, disappointments and good cheer. Amid all this, my work here at Cafe Dissensus has held my compass in more than one way. The opportunity to work with a diverse group of contributors – writing on a wide range of subjects, from social concerns to political issues, immigrants’ dilemmas and travel reminiscences – privileged me to absorb a multitude of sensibilities while also allowing me to selfishly hone my skills as an editor. Through it all, the refrain of our journal, “We Dissent,” not only remained luminescent but shone brighter.
I found it heartening to see a profusion of poetry on our pages this year. We published a good number of quality poems, both by new and established poets. The contributions we received reinforced for me how poetry has always been and continues to be one of the most powerful vehicles of expressing dissent. And how it has always been and continues to be a powerful engine of emoting the most intimate of struggles and epiphanies. As someone, who is ever greedy for poetry that stirs, 2015 was my year of reading many that did on Cafe Dissensus. I remain hungry for more.
The October issue of Cafe Dissensus – “The Everyday and Other Tagore,” which I guest edited, enabled me to collaborate with artists and authors on showcasing lesser-known facets of Rabindranath Tagore – from grassroots initiatives celebrating his legacy in the most organic ways; to his association with and influence on, many a remarkable non-Indian; to the abiding personal impressions the man continues to leave on his enthusiasts. Working on the issue opened my eyes to a Tagore I knew to exist beyond the borders of refined elitism but hadn’t had the opportunity to meet.
For all these opportunities and the possibilities of more such edifying encounters, I remain thankful to all our contributors and the Cafe Dissensus team. Let’s keep dissenting.
By Mary Ann Chacko & Mosarrap H. Khan, Editors
In the year-end review last year, we wrote that the beginning is easier and the difficult part is to keep the excitement going. Well, here we are. Cafe Dissensus just completed our third year! And how did we fare in 2015?
Let’s look at the statistics first.
In 2015, Cafe Dissensus got 56,600 hits and 30,000 visitors. Additionally, Cafe Dissensus Everyday got 45, 200 hits and 28, 800 visitors. That makes a total of 101,800 hits and 58,800 visitors.
In 2014, we published a total of 218 posts and, in 2015, we published a total of 275 posts.
That is, for a 26% increase in posting, our number of visitors increased almost 75% and hits increased by 70%.
Considering the fact, we published 275 posts in 2015, which many other websites publish in a month or so, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about 2015 and we want to carry this excitement into 2016!
Statistics aside, let’s consider our substantive achievements in 2015.
Most importantly, we have been able to take up issues which we felt must be discussed in a comprehensive manner, instead of the usual piecemeal way that we find in media. For example, we come across a stray article on the Indian Jews or two on the Gorkhaland issue. In contrast, our guest editors picked challenging issues to discuss and put together quite commendable issues, despite our many resource constraints. In 2015, we have had issues ranging from ‘The Indian Jewry’ to ‘Faiz Ahmed Faiz’ to ‘The Everyday and Other Tagore’ to ‘Gorkhaland’. We also managed to publish an issue on the supposed ‘controversial’ topic of ‘Muslim Women on Hijab’, where Muslim women recounted their personal experiences for their choice. Overall, we have managed to keep the tradition of ‘dissent’ going. In this, we are committed to dissenting ideas, which challenge both the liberal and conservative views.
We are excited about our proposed issues in 2016. We have lined up issues ranging from Jewish-Muslims relations in South Asia to issues on Minor Faith Traditions in South Asia to Mapping Muslim Life in West Bengal. If you would like to submit an article or art-work, do look up our submissions page.
The idea behind Cafe Dissensus is to bridge the gap between academic writing/thinking and lay readers. So far, we have requested our guest editors and contributors to write in an accessible way so that the general reader could engage with the complex ideas which the traditional media avoids because of a fear of losing out on readership.
As we had stated earlier, we would like to position Café Dissensus as a reader-sourced magazine; a people’s magazine. With that spirit, we invite our readers, academics, activists, journalists, students to guest-edit an issue in 2017. If you are excited about an idea, an event, a book, a personality, or anything else and feel you want to generate a critical conversation around it, do consider guest-editing an issue of Café Dissensus. Send us a concept note and we will take it forward from there. You may find detailed guidelines for guest-editing an issue HERE.
Further, we have managed to keep Cafe Dissensus Everyday (the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine) a fun, engaging, experimental, and eclectic space. In 2015, we have increased the number of poetry and creative writing publications. While we will keep on publishing poetry and other creative writings, we also focus on the current socio-political events that need to be discussed. We are proud of the fact that we have managed to feature quite a few new writers and new writers remain our priority. We are looking for regular writers, who will take this tradition forward. Do look up our guidelines for becoming a regular contributor to Café Dissensus Everyday.
In 2015, we serialized a translation of Rabindranath Tagore’s Nastanirh (we will publish the last two chapters in the coming week) and published a three-part essay on Latin American writers, started a new series of articles on World Cinema, a series of interviews, besides publishing a number of essays on Muslim women’s issues. We would like to continue focusing on these areas in 2016.
Our January, 2015 issue on ‘The Indian Jewry’ is now in print. The Mumbai-based Bene Israel Heritage Museum And Genealogical Research Centre will bring out the print issue in 2016. We are also considering converting our last issue in 2016 – ‘Mapping Muslim Life in West Bengal’ – into a book. We also hope down the years, we would be able to publish our own books. However, that remains a distant dream…
We would like to thank our editorial team members, guest-editors, friends, and acquaintances for their support and help. Our particular thanks to Bhaswati Ghosh for helping us in editing Cafe Dissensus Everyday. We hope all of you will continue to help and guide us.
Finally, it goes without saying our biggest supporters are our readers. We are grateful to you for reading. Despite being resource-starved and running without any financial support, we keep going because you read us. And we will continue doing so as long as you read us.
Here is a list of our most read pieces published in 2015. We have chosen 15 each depending on the maximum number of hits they garnered. However, it goes without saying the pieces/issues published earlier in the year got more hits than the ones published later in the year:
Cafe Dissensus Most Read Pieces in 2015:
Indian Jews in Cinema (Kenneth X Robbins)
Writing My Own Story, In My Own Terms (Nazreen Fazal)
Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Bangladesh Liberation War (Mosarrap H. Khan)
Photo-Essay: The Hidden Jews of Maharashtra (Shalva Weil)
The Cochini Jewish Cuisine (Bala Menon)
Anwar (Arundhati Ghosh)
A Night of His Own (Koushik Dutta)
The Indian Jewry and the Need for Jewish Studies in India (Navras Jaat Aafreedi)
Tagore’s Association with Jews (Navras Jaat Aafreedi)
Why the Hijab? (Varsha Basheer)
An Indian in England (Ruma Chakravarti)
An Interview with Sahana Bajpaie (Bhaswati Ghosh)
Cafe Dissensus Everyday Most Read Pieces:
Do Muslim Women Need a Feminist Revolution? (Kouser Fathima)
This Mansoon: A Ghazal (Manash Bhattacharjee)
Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘The Broken Home’ (Nastanirh), Chapter 1 (Lopa Banerjee)
Dr. B.R.Ambedkar’s Vision of Emancipation through Social Justice (Muhammad Ashraf)
For Our Tomorrow (Sutapa Basu)
Young and Divorced: Escalating Divorce Rates in Nepal (Neha Basnet)
A Compilation of R.K.Lakshman’s ‘The Common Man’ (Mosarrap H. Khan)
Poem: Curry (Esha Biswas)
A Visit to a Sub-jail ‘Somewhere’ in Kerala (Mary Ann Chacko)
Yakub Memon, a MUSLIM, was Hanged (Mosarrap H. Khan)
Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘The Broken Home’ (Nastanirh), Chapter 2 (Lopa Banerjee)
Would My Mother be Lynched for Eating Beef? (Mosarrap H. Khan)
Paris Attacks: The Sorrowful Night of 13 November, 2015 (Shahzaman Haque)
We wish all our readers a Very Happy 2016! Keep reading Cafe Dissensus & Cafe Dissensus Everyday!!
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City, USA. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.