Edition I


To possess knowledge is to have a critical consciousness of one's own socio-cultural reality. Paulo Freire in his book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, notes that our objective social reality cannot be separated from a critical intervention of our said history. Considering this, knowledge presents itself as an understanding of our collective socio-cultural realities; including, but certainly not limited to, historical, visual, and media literacy. This possession of knowledge, as Freire puts it, leads one to critically intervene in their own reality and allows us to think about how our past informs our present, and potential futures.

“The more the people unveil this challenging reality which is the object of their transforming action, the more critically they enter that reality.”

To know is to be aware that we are agents of change, that we are active participants in our reality, that we are capable of transforming our reality. For us to become active participants who can transform our socio-cultural reality, we must have access to the tools required to unveil, and critically enter our realities.

Access is indispensable to knowledge. Access implies that the knowledge required to unveil and critically enter our reality, is easily obtainable and decipherable. Knowledge therefore becomes a form of wisdom, a collective consciousness; Knowledge becomes an antidote to historical amnesia. Knowledge becomes a connective tissue between the past, present, and potential futures.

Kitaab (Kitab (Arabic: کتاب, kitāb), also transcribed kitaab, is the Arabic, Turkic, Urdu, Hindi and in various Indian Languages word for "book")as; the source of knowledge; one whose existence refutes its own stagnancy; as in knowledge ever-evolving, boundless, sovereign, and unvarnished.

Kollective as; a metaphorical vessel that invites the unsaid, the distorted, the empty gaps in between, allowing its contents to pass through itself in order to be accessible, repair incomplete stories and recuperate the loss of collective memories; an evolving network of artists who transcend boundaries (and in doing so, build transnational artistic solidarity); artists whose practice aligns with the Kollective’s ethos; a creative, expansive, and interconnected exchange of knowledge; a space for interacting, archiving, gathering, researching, brainstorming; a growing library of diverse ideas and thoughts; a Kollective as the disseminator of knowledge.


There is no history without humankind… There is only history of humanity, made by the people and in turn making them. It is when the majorities are denied their right to participate in history as Subjects that they become dominated and alienated

History as an apparatus, is being misused for a Hindu nationalist mythos to establish itself. Hindu nationalism- a conservative social and political ideology is rooted in the idea of India as a homogenized Hindu national majority. Such an ideology maintains itself through cultural hegemony, laying unjust and false claims to history, and spreading dangerous communal rhetoric. We have witnessed a rapid public altering of history, whether that is ‘Hinduising’ names of historical cities, or rewriting history in school textbooks; to erase the roles and contributions of Mughal rule, and the reality of gender violence and caste discrimination. Our artistic and journalistic freedom of expression is curtailed through excessive censorship. Journalists, academics, and activists have been murdered, deemed anti-national, and imprisoned under colonial acts like the UAPA and NIA. This puts India’s multicultural, diverse, and underrepresented histories under active threat, inducing gaps in our collective memory, i.e., historical amnesia.

The majority community’s aggressive assertion of its Hindu nationalistic spirit through mythicized history is the beginning of a decivilised process of a whole society. Myths are a form of dominant reality created to subjugate, repress, and further divide and alienate. Myth-making constitutes dominant cultures recreating reality in order to preserve themselves as authority. A distorted myth of Hindu 'indigeneity’ and victimhood is constructed to legitimize a claim on history, one that maintains a stunted perspective of the past. History therefore becomes a vehicle of homogeneity, rendered inaccessible when documentation and knowledge preservation have not been afforded to marginalized communities.

Knowledge of our collective past must go beyond the dehumanizing spectrums of hypervisibility/ invisibility, and transgress Hindu fascist ideologies, along with colonial scholarships. Present-day acts of historical distortion mimic colonial interpretations of our past. This prolongs the psychological remnants of colonial legacies, manifesting itself through a lack of confidence and capacity to explore and experiment.

In this context, to record/witness/report from within political and cultural systems designed to deprive/oppress/censor then becomes important practices for collective liberation. Knowledge preservation and its subsequent dissemination contribute to the growing conversation of artistic dissent against erasure of history. Through this act we become our own voice and take control of our narratives, thus creating our own pipelines of access. Kitaab Kollective aims to fill the cavities of incomplete histories, with the intention to build a collective consciousness.


Kollective as a site for literacy and dialogue

Visual, media, and historical literacy enables us to become active Subjects instead of objects, who critically view reality as a changeable entity. The dominant culture’s authority relies on the inability of people to think for themselves, to know truth from untruth. Disunity arises through this process of alienation, preventing individuals from investigating the conditions of their reality and thereby inducing an apolitical existence limited by passivity.

Kitaab Kollective intends to pose as problems all myths used by the dominant culture to maintain its power. The naming of said myths allows us to confront the hegemonic cultures of brahmanism, patriarchy, colonialism, capitalism, etc. Active Subjects possess the language to expose dominant cultural archetypes and rhetoric - ones that are created to misrepresent. By locating all that is unsaid, forgotten, erased, we begin to subvert violent myths. Speculating historical and cultural depictions of love, unity, comradery becomes an important practice to fill the gaps of history and bridge schisms of differences. By cultivating such creative pedagogies of visual, media, and historical literacy we are equipped to refute dominant cultural narratives.

For education to remain a living organism, it must constantly question its objectives, its contents, and its methods; This critical intervention of reality requires the praxis of action and reflection. Reflection seeks answers to the questions of why and how, the externalization of which becomes action. Effective action must lead to further critical reflections. It is this cyclical, and balanced, outward and inward nature of action and reflection, that can be enacted through dialogue.

Kitaab Kollective intends to be a site for effective cross-cultural, multilingual dialogue. Dialogue is understood as an act of creation; as a means of connection, that bridges gaps in knowledge. Dialogue cannot exist in relation to domination.Disrupting hierarchies of power requires love to be a uniting force, an organizing principle.

Dialogue must carry a deep love for the people. To build solidarity is not simply to be aware of collective interest, but to have faith and hope in each other, to inter-connect and collaborate – to build comradeship. Through this, we are able to act compassionately, in order to build transnational artistic solidarity.

Kollective as a site of cultural remix

To speak something into existence, is to claim it and be claimed by it. An action that creates space for an exchange of possibilities reflexively informing one another. It is in this chamber of flux, wherein our collective freedom lies, where we are able to break the dominant myths imposed onto us and build our own reality. Cultures exist in the context of which they are a part, in interaction with other parts.It is existing within a cultural vacuum, which relies on heightened majoritarianism and fascism, that we remain disunited and alienated. We understand collective liberation as various struggles interacting and coming together. In seeking to enact unity in diversification, We have the capacity to form a creative language - herein lies the essence of cultural remix.

The potential of cultural remix to cultivate a collective consciousness lies in the act of cultural collaging: a borderless instrument that employs a cross-cultural exchange within and beyond the Indian context, to connect, witness, share, speculate and permeate boundaries between cultures, histories, and languages. With this, Kitaab Kollective aims to build transnational artistic solidarity and an alternative voice.

This act of cultural remix can also be understood as a form of cultural rebellion, a subversion, and a transgression of existing dominant cultural realities. Cultural rebellion becomes another component of our potential creative language – a thorough and deliberate act that interrupts ongoing dominant myth-making. In establishing a climate of creativity we are introduced to an environment conducive to transformation.

Kitaab Kollective poses cultural remix as a practice that seeks to confront culture itself by revisiting the gaps in history and culture with a critical lens. Remix seeks to revisit and retell, to rupture an archive predicated on dominant myths, and challenge the gaps and silences through the exercise of imagining. To remix means for the past to meet the present: to speculate on the lost and untold, and imagine potential futures of what the present will look like as history.


To exist humanly, is to name the world, to change it. Once named, the world in turn reappears to the namers as a problem and requires of them a new naming.

Q) How does one tell impossible stories?” Hartman asks, and she suggests many avenues: “advancing a series of speculative arguments”, “exploiting the capacities of the subjunctive (a grammatical mood that expresses doubts, wishes, and possibilities)”, writing history “with and against the archive,” “imagining what cannot be verified”.

Q) What are the kinds of stories to be told by those who live in such an intimate relationship with death? Romances? Tragedies? Shrieks that find their way into speech and song? What are the protocols and limits that shape the narratives written as counter-history, an aspiration that isn’t prophylactic against the risks posed by reiterating violent speech and depicting again rituals of torture? How does one revisit the scene of subjection without replicating the grammar of violence? Is the “terrible beauty” that resides in such a scene something akin to remedy as Fred Moten would seem to suggest? The kind of terrible beauty and terrible music that he discerns in Aunt Hester’s screams transformed into the songs of the Great House Farm or in the photograph of Emmett Till’s destroyed face, and the “acuity of regard. '' which arises from a willingness to look into the open casket. Do the possibilities outweigh the dangers of looking (again)?

Carmen Maria Machado, In the Dreamhouse

Q) What makes knowledge accessible (art, stories, poems, protest)? And how do you make it accessible? How can knowledge and its production be translated into collective action? How can we sustain knowledge?

Q) How can we envision future artifacts that are independent of colonial and hegemonic/Brahmanic influences in order to foster historical literacy? (i.e, What will the present look like as history? How will the objects I hold dear today, age? Can this imaginative exercise help us collectively retrace our steps, so we stand on the right side of history?


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