AGITATE! — Stories and Ecologies of Violence: Walking Together in Solidarity and Silence/Chup

What are stories, after all, if not an occasion for bringing together a community. To hold each other close in the face of a fatal threat. To huddle together when we are lost. To come together in hope … even if hope has never felt like a bigger lie before, in the face of an ongoing genocide that has scorned all systems of justice and suffocated the cries of protesting people across the world?

These lines with which Abdul Aijaz and Richa Nagar begin their editorial introduction to Volume 5 of AGITATE!, “Stories and Ecologies of Violence: Walking Together in Solidarity and Silence/Chup”, will resonate deeply with all of us at this moment when Gaza has been under under deliberate annihilation, calculated destruction, and devastating assaults of catastrophic magnitudes for more than 215 days. The border-crossing, border-defying journeys and collaborations that have found expression in this volume began almost four years before the current genocidal war in Gaza, the resurgence of a transnational movement in solidarity with Palestine, and its repression by states and institutions. Yet, we feel, this volume could not have come at a better time. As Aijaz and Nagar put it, “Stories might be all we have to live with”.

At the root of this multi-genre, multi-lingual volume is a play called CHUP, or silence, written by Fawad Khan, and journeys with this play performed under the direction of Sunil Shanker in Karachi and Tarun Kumar in Bombay. CHUP tells the story of a family living in the shadow of a forced disappearance that has coalesced into a silence. This silence binds them together and screams out its truths, while inviting each of us to step into the horrifying silences of our times, places, and geopolitics, and demanding us to responsibly engage with them in ways that are resonant at levels that are simultaneously intimate, regional, national, and planetary. With stories, performances, and reflections from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Kashmir, and Bangladesh—along with an unwavering commitment to mourn, stand, fight, and resist with Gaza—we offer this fifth volume of AGITATE! in the hopes that it will move our community and give us courage to continue walking together in an embrace that refuses borders even in the face of silences that scream with horrors of seemingly endless wars.

We invite you to walk with us through the stories in this volume.

AGITATE! Editorial Collective, May 2024

An online, open access, peer-reviewed journal, AGITATE! is a platform for knowledges that seek to unsettle the dominant politics and practices of experts. AGITATE! explores the possibilities and challenges of interweaving scholarship, creative writing, art, journalism, and activism. We invite contributors from diverse locations to engage the anti-disciplinary space of AGITATE! to catalyze new conversations, visions, and narrative practices in multiple genres and languages, in order to advance struggles for sociopolitical and epistemic justice. We encourage work that is cognizant of and intentional about the simultaneous ethics, aesthetics, poetics, and politics of transformative knowledge-making and pedagogies. We welcome the submission of essays, creative non/fiction, artwork, poetry, translations, musings, and meditations on political struggles in named and unnamed forms. By evolving an open process of co-creation, AGITATE! challenges the traditional divides between process and product, and between author, artist, reviewer, and editor.