Author Bio: 

Niharika Pandit is a PhD researcher at LSE Department of Gender Studies. Her research is an anticolonial feminist inquiry into everyday politics of living under military occupation in Kashmir and grounded in feminist, anticolonial thought and transnational feminist epistemologies. She is an editorial collective member of Engenderings and a writer. Her research and writings have appeared in Economic and Political Weekly, Association of Political and Legal Anthropology, the Polis Project, Feminist Review blog, Engenderings, The Hindu among others.

Samia Mehraj is a writer and poet from Sopore, Kashmir, and writes on politics, people, and resistance in Kashmir. Her work has appeared in Feminist Review Journal, Zanaan Wanaan, Scroll, Mountain Ink Magazine, Greater Kashmir, Kashmir Lit, Hindustan Times and elsewhere. She won the South Asia Speaks Mentorship Program for early-career writers and is working on her debut book of short fiction set in Kashmir. At present, she works as a public policy professional and can be reached at samiamehraj.19@gmail.com.

Ahmad Qais Munhazim, a genderqueer Muslim and perpetually displaced, is an assistant professor of global studies at the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. As an interdisciplinary scholar, de/colonial ethnographer and community activist, Munhazim’s work troubles borders of academia, activism and art while exploring everyday experiences of displacements and conflicts in the lives of queer and trans subjects. Currently, Munhazim is preparing their book manuscript based on a de/colonial ethnography of queer and trans Afghan refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers in the United States. Munhazim has published articles, poetry and non-fictions in the Journal of Narrative Politics, The Oxford Handbook of Global LGBT and Sexual Diversity Politics, Antipode, We Are Meant to Rise: Voices for Justice from Minneapolis to the World, Queer Voices: Poetry, Prose and Pride and the Conversation. Munhazim, born and raised in Afghanistan and exiled currently in Philadelphia, holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Minnesota.

An Afghan raised in New York City, Wazina's storycollecting and storytelling work centers collective memories and rites of passage in the diaspora. As an informal and undisciplined performer, Wazina is the co-presenter of Coming Out Muslim: Radical Acts of Love, a personal storytelling performance capturing the experience of being queer and Muslim alongside her creative counterpart and sister in spirituality, Terna Tilley-Gyado. Currently, she is working on Faith: in Love/faith in love which (re)traces her parent's love story and family’s inherited love print.

Myriam Amri is an anthropologist-in-training at Harvard University and an aspiring visual artist whose research and creative practices investigate capitalism and materiality in North Africa.

Malek Lakhal is a writer, research fellow at the Arab Reform Initiative, and a former journalist. She just completed her first novel on a diasporic queer man between Tunisia and France. Myriam and Malek have long collaborated on several projects. Currently, they are finishing their first film on space and memory in a neighborhood of Tunis. They are also working on a sound project on the memory of fear in Tunisia and have co-founded the Arab literary collective Asameena.

Benazir Ruqayya is a mother, avid reader, and ardent follower of feminist writer and poet Fahmida Riaz. She is currently in the final year of her undergraduate degree in English literature through a distance learning programme in India. Benazir works on mobilizing digital resources for generating awareness towards education of Muslim boys in Old Delhi. She teaches English and Urdu to government school girls from neighborhoods of Old Delhi.

Madhulika Sonkar is a sociologist and educator based in Delhi, India. She received her Ph.D. in sociology from the Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi. Her work focuses on schooling cultures and educational aspirations of Muslim women in contemporary India. Her research interests lie at the broad intersections of gender studies, sociology of education, and sociology of media. She is passionate about interdisciplinary pedagogies and feminist praxis of ethnographic research and writing.

Cite This: 
Niharika Pandit, Samia Mehraj, Ahmad Qais Munhazim, Wazina Zondon, Myriam Amri, Malek Lakhal, Benazir Ruqayya, Madhulika Sonkar. "Collaborative Writing: Notes on Methodology ". Kohl: a Journal for Body and Gender Research Vol. 7 No. 1 (06 September 2021): pp. 215-221. (Last accessed on 19 October 2021). Available at: https://kohljournal.press/collaborative-writing-notes-methodology.
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  • What brought us to collaborative writing? What did it yield in terms of building community? How does the politics of location play out especially when writers belong to deeply differential locations?
  • How did our collaborations counter knowledge production/dissemination?
  • What are the openings, disruptions, and opportunities within our methodologies?
  • How did our process orient us to rupture academia and “formal” modes of knowledge production?

     

How do you resist power when you are yet to understand its (dis)continuities, permutations, assemblages, and the ghosts it conjures?

BY REMAINING HAUNTED?

Niharika/Samia

 

The method adopted in our paper reflects the conversation, discussions and trepidation we have in person, outside of the paper. Our attempt was to make academic writing as visceral and raw as our everyday engagements/ experiences are. Our method departed from how co-writing is often done in academics, that is, authors often distribute sections of the paper and collate individual pieces of work into one. We took up the conversations we had had over the course of a year, we further dissected them, found moments of solidarity and reflections. It is only then that the documentation made it to the paper.

 

Archiving, reading, and writing as intentional responses.
Samia: “Perhaps the only way I would like to spend 5th August is by writing.”
 

Our collaborative writing methodology is experiential and experimental. It offers no guarantees but a feminist journey of un/learning and being in community differently.

Who walks how much; are we meeting halfway? Is it possible to even demand meeting halfway with material differences in our subject locations: as a colonised person & other who is part of the colonising state?

An anticolonial feminist meeting place;
a feminist journey and story of
intimacy, solidarity, friendship but no finality.

We began with questions, introspections, in the hope of learning more fully and being differently.

“We feel a sense of loss – different yet shared – on offering these archives and experiences to the world. Will readers embody a reparative stance and read this with the intention we propose?”
“Would the readers of this paper read about the world we seek to imagine, or is that limited to authors’ experience of archive?”
“Hope the readers cross-read our cross-readings.”

Solidarity, whether through writing or material and affective practices has to be intentional and aware of differences that cannot be transcended or played down. This is not about transcendence.

 

CROSS-READINGS
INTIMATE ARCHIVES; AN ARCHIVE OF INTIMACY
LOSS, ANXIETY, UNCERTAINTY

 

RESISTANCE
FAILURE; WE KEEP ON YEARNING, BEING, DREAMING OF “UTOPIAS”
RESPITE; A PAUSE?

 


Qais/Wazina

 

Q: We came to write this piece in relation to the performance we have created of the queer Muslim burial and death. This co-writing became a form of healing and connections that we both were missing in our queer, Muslim and Afghan communities. Collective reflections on our lived experiences became:

                       Community building, healing

Nourishing

Translation of experiences – academic, cultural identities, how we hold insider-outsider roles in so many ways (positionality and geographies/literally)

Meeting over Zoom to build trust, learn one another, and
authentically collaborate on our strengths:
generative conversations without being contrived

W: our collaboration was manifested with the intention to tease/facilitate/support the knowledge, knowings, and creativity of one another without a product in mind. For me, it was an exercise in mindfulness, intentionally unlearning production: the benchmarks of success, timelines, deadlines, deliverables, even noticing my attempts to have an agenda for our weekly conversations because really, there is no way to schedule humanity! Particularly noticing the ways socio-cultural conditioning manifests with and within my hyphenated selves.

This co-writing became a form of healing and connections that we both were missing in our queer, Muslim, and Afghan communities.

A feminist queer collaboration allowed us to form a dosti that is rooted in our vulnerabilities, shared culture and love for our home we have left yet hold in our hearts from afar, Afghanistan.

 


How do you collaboratively resist the logics of erasure and the layers of invisibility produced by systems of power?

Myriam/Malek

 

Collaboration is rendering legible a network of care, co-conspiring. It’s a conjuring of friendship. Entanglements between people are already collaboration.

To write together is to refuse the requirements of individualism that center authorship against coproductions.

I think of our collaboration like our friendship, a series of threads that go in every possible corner, that extend, cut, stay at the surface or slide underwater, woven back and back.

We began by choosing to write to each other, be in conversation through emails with one another before imagining an outside.

There is no ending, just a conversation that takes on another corner, precisely because the systems we seek to fight have not stopped talking either.

“I don’t have the patience to keep the walls of our confinements, not to cross the lines. I don’t want to hold back. I want to invade space with all the surface of our needs.”

                 Crisis, urgency, grief,
           anger, invisibility, against
                         patriarchy, vulnerability, violence,
               porousness, slippages, knots, intimacy.

“I reckon this friendship is also celebrating its revolutionary decade.”

Through this exchange we found links that could only exist in the collaboration: how invisibility was not only discursive but seen and felt and countered through text and image.

What should we ought to read together? What is our collective genealogy, who is our analytical kin?

Inserting ourselves in traditions and practices that have historically considered us outsiders – claiming them, queering the fuck out of them, and owning them.

 


Benazir/Madhulika

 

Coming together

Benazir: Can this collaborative writing become a way to speak as myself – a young Muslim woman? What is the texture of my voice when not speaking as the “respondent”/ “interlocutor” in research projects?

Madhulika: How does one nurse the scars of ethnographic writing during PhD? Can collaborative writing help me harbor mutuality, love, and care for those I met during research?

 

Writing Friendship (Process and positions)

Benazir: What can we write about, and what do we write? How do I write to tell the world what altered my world much before 2020?

Madhulika: Can friendship be written outside the voice-representation nexus? Would it be narcissistic to only think of this friendship as “ours” when it is equally the women we have met who have shaped our intimate worlds?

 

Care work during collaborative writing

Benazir: Can any form of writing be enough to hold together all the fear and vulnerability one has experienced?

Madhulika: In the midst of collaborative writing, shouldn’t we also prepare ourselves to stand with each other? To care for each other as we stumble through memories of despair?

 

Archiving: The troubles of “looking back”

Benazir: Where do I hide all that I did not choose to write? I was not keen on drawing any lines or boundaries, but this kind of collaborative writing oriented me to embrace honesty, guilt, risk, and accountability that comes with the process of writing.

Madhulika: What to do when archives are painful? As friends and collaborators, we set out to scratch the surface of many personal memories we have wanted to let go of. How does one think of the readability of a text when “writing” itself becomes choked?

Benazir: I felt as much as the collaboration was rooted in the political, it was etched into the personal.

 

Where do we go from here?

Benazir: Amidst the chaos of violence, I must find spaces to nurture healing and solidarity. It is in its sustenance, not momentariness, that I find promises of hope and love.

Madhulika: Can collaborative writing be situated as a methodological departure, and not an analytical arrival?

 

Notes: