Sunday, December 02, 2012

Show your support for a Free and Open Internet

    Some world governments want to increase censorship and regulate the internet. The decisions will be taken in a closed door meeting. Join together and keep the Internet free from government regulated censorship. Visit this link for more info.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Prajapati Obscenity Trial (Supreme Court Verdict)

Lady Chatterley's Lover in Japan

This is the judgement on the case of translation and publication of LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER in Japan. In 1950, the editor Kyujiro Koyama and the translator Sei Ito were accused of obscenity for the translation, publication and distribution of this novel. The prosecutor insisted that twelve passages in the book were obscene to the general public and therefore its public viewing constituted a crime under Article 175 of the Penal Code. On the other hand, the accused maintained that the interpretation of the Penal Code given by the prosecutor was flawed and unconstitutional. After a series of disputes at the Tokyo High Court, the case was finally taken to the Supreme Court in 1957. On 13 March of that year, the Supreme Court rejected any appeals made by the accused and backed the accusations made by the prosecution that the twelve passages at issue infected the whole book with obscenity arguing that "the description of the sex acts contained therein at twelve passages, as pointed out by the prosecutor, is all too bold, detailed, and realistic"

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Book on War-crime likely to be banned in Pakistan

The book "A Stranger in my own Country East Pakistan, 1969-1971" written by Late Major General Khadim Hussain Raja and published by OUP, Pakistan has caused an uproar in the Pakistan government. The book has reportedly brought to light the war-crimes and genocides performed by the Pakistan army under the command of General A.A.K Niazi during the Bangladesh Liberation War.
The book was published according to the last wishes of the author expressed to his family as he feared that publication of the book during his lifetime may put his life at risk.
Reports indicate that Pakistan government is trying everything it can to ban the book in the country. The book hasn't made its way into Indian markets yet and doesn't looks like it will.
I don't know whether we will get to see another government "sponsored" book-burning in this 21st century but we should try to get hold of a copy, if possible, before the last wishes of the author gets wiped out from the face of the earth.
Useful link:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Obama "Joker" Poster

Firas Alkhateeb, an American citizen of Palestinian origin designed and uploaded the Obama "joker" poster on Flickr in January 2009. Described by 'The Guardian' as "America's first successful use of street art", the poster has been a symbol for anti-Obama protests. Following media coverage, Flickr deleted all the available digital posters and the forums discussing it. This action was met by severe backlash which caused Flickr to change their Copyright Infringement Policy. As a result of Flickr removing the image, some online communities viewed Alkhateeb as the most visible representative of free speech on the internet in August 2009.
Details of the poster controversy are available at

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Class groups for assignments

Group 1
Bidisha UG3
Utsarjana UG3
Anwesha RayUG2
Subhajit DasUG2

Group 2
Aratrika UG3
Raahi UG3
Sayantani UG2

Group 3
Aritra Sengupta UG3
Deeptarko UG3
Ankita RoyUG2

Group 4
Ankita UG3
Arshia UG3
Saswati UG2
Sayani UG2

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Solidarity for Owen Holland

At Cambridge, Owen Holland faces a seven-term ban for reading out a poem and disrupting a lecture:

'Owen Holland has been sentenced to a suspension of seven terms by Cambridge University's court of discipline for reading a poem aloud. He was found guilty in March of "impeding freedom of speech" after a group of students disrupted a lecture by David Willetts, the minister for universities and science, in November last year.
The decision to pursue a peaceful protester is questionable; a sentence of seven terms – more than two years – is absurd. This is not simply a question of internal disciplinary procedures at a single university. This injustice sets a dangerous precedent. We should all be able to conduct reasonable protests against our government without the fear of unjust punishment at the hands of bodies keen to maintain good relations with that government. In this, Holland's case concerns all of us.'

Course matters

Though the course description arranges the history of censorship in a chronological sequence, we will be following a somewhat different trajectory in practice. Every week, half the classes will be devoted to reading the history of censorship as outlined in the schedule. The other half of the week will be devoted to debates about contemporary issues of censorship. These classes will be interactive, and students will be expected to engage in debate, either singly or in groups.

So the first month of the course could look like:

Reading topic: Censorship in Greece and Rome
  • Frederick H. Cramer, ‘Bookburning and Censorship in Ancient Rome’, Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 6, no.2 (April 1945), 157-196 []
  • Mary Whitlock Blundell, Apeiron: A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science, Vol. 26, No. 3/4, Virtue love & Form: ESSAYS IN MEMORY OF GREGORY VLASTOS (September/December 1993), pp. 17-36 []
Discussion topic: The case of the Ambedkar cartoon
  • Ajay Skaria, 'Violence and Laughter' []
  • Round table on the Ambedkar cartoon: []
There are tons of other material circulating on the Net and social media--these are just two of the recent responses. 

Further course readings:

The Inquisition: 

Elizabethan and Jacobean England
  • Steven Mullaney, The Place of the Stage: License, Play and Power in Renaissance England (Chicago, London: The University of Chicago Press, 1988)
  • Janet Clare, Art Made Tongue-Tied by Authority (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999)
  • Jos J. Long, 'The Freedom of the Press', Virginia Law Review, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Jan., 1918), pp. 225-246; 
  • W.S. Holdsworth, 'Press Control and Copyright in the 16th and 17th Centuries',  The Yale Law Journal, Vol. 29, No. 8 (Jun., 1920), pp. 841-858;
England and France in the 17th and 18th Centuries
India during the Raj

  • Robert Darnton, 'Literary Surveillance in the British Raj: The Contradictions of Liberal Imperialism', Book History, Vol. 4 (2001),
  • Graham Shaw, 'On the Wrong End of the Raj: some aspects of censorship in British India and its Circumvention 1920s-1940s', Abhijit Gupta and Swapan Chakravorty, eds., Moveable Type: Book History in India (New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2008)
  • James Long, Strike, but Hear! (Calcutta. R.C. Lepage, 1961):
  • Ranajit Guha, 'Neel- Darpan: the Image of a Peasant Revolt in a Liberal Mirror'Journal of Peasant Studies, 2: 1 (Oct. 1974), 1.46