Through animated history explainers and short films, Hashiya takes on intergenerational trauma by examining violent incidents that impacted communities in South Asia. We want to examine the different ways historical violence is processed when it is committed by the perceived “other” versus violence committed by a collective identified as “us”. We also want to create a space for our viewers to engage in a more empathetic examination of these violent histories and the way their legacies impact communities today.
In Pakistan, citizens’ primary interaction with history is through textbooks and curriculum that are demonstrably selective and biased. There is a dire need for publicly available alternative sources of history which engage in difficult conversations about the past in a critical and constructive manner. Hashiya is our attempt to fill that gap: well researched, peer-reviewed historical research presented in an easily accessible way through engaging storytelling. We begin this exploration of history, power and identity with a module on colonialism and its lasting impact on our culture, memory and society. After that, we explore 3 instances of violence: one on the pre-partition violence committed by colonial powers during the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919, and the other two on post-partition violence committed extralegally by citizens – 1953 Ahmedi Riots – or “legally” by the state – 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.
On Hashiya, we also want to share important scholarly and literary voices from across the globe – writers, speakers, and activists who have shaped our approach to understanding and interacting with history but whose works are often circumscribed to academic circles. By translating these into Urdu – some for the very first time – we hope to enrich future discussions on history.
All videos and posters produced for Hashiya will not only be launched online but also be included in Shehri Pakistan (a citizenship project under Engage) and LUMS’ outreach programs for public and private schools.
“History is more than dates, more than an objective or subjective telling of past truths. It lives in us. It defines the bounds of what is knowable, about ourselves and about our “others”. History is essentially the story of humankind. When you deny parts of that story, you deny the humanity of the people it belongs to. To acknowledge alternative, critical, and contradictory histories is to acknowledge the humanity of all peoples”
Fatima Anwar, Chief Editor
So far, Hashiya’s explainers have been received very well. Viewers’ response underscores the importance of critical, well researched history resources in Urdu that go beyond facts, figures and dates. Many expressed that decolonial thought is often only found in European languages and that having local resources proliferate those ideas outside of select circles was a seminal step. Viewers also greatly appreciated the fact that Hashiya is committed to narrating histories from the margins, telling stories of the oppressed and dispossessed. They are also delighted by the medium: thought-provoking scripts brought to life through engaging visuals and evocative original music. Our translation project has also received excitement and praise not just from the public but also from academics and social media platforms interested in Urdu literature. Perhaps the most gratifying has been that the comments on Hashiya often go beyond just simple praise: viewers have engaged with the content by sharing questions, critique, and having in-depth discussions with other viewers.
Within a month, we have had 4500 followers across platforms and 352,000 total engagement (views, shares, likes, comments, etc.) across campaigns in about three weeks. Two significant findings in our initial numbers are a) we have an impressive ratio of shares on instagram in which likes and shares are 1:1 on some posts and b) our Urdu content outperforms the content published in English for every video and poster we have published so far.
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