The Sparkplug: Volume 1

Born with a cackle, The Sparkplug is the thorn on the stem of the rose, the splinter in your thumb, the glass in your sandal. Launched on June 1, 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic, this is the first volume of The Sparkplug.

Volume #1, Issue #3

Of Purity and Autonomy: A Nation for Whom?

Excerpts: The Many Faces of Kashmiri Nationalism, by Nandita Haksar

The Seeds of Alienation: The politics of exclusion in Kashmir’s independence movement, by Lital Khaikin

Interview with Nandita Haksar

This third issue of The Sparkplug considers the challenges and contradictions that are entangled in Kashmir’s pursuit for self-determination. Included is a conversation with author and human rights lawyer Nandita Haksar, based around her research on how the nationalist movement in Jammu and Kashmir intersects with the socio-economic challenges that in turn face migrants to Northeast India.

Class struggle and caste segregation are firmly at the centre of this confrontation, around which, like vultures, circle the divisions of religion, industry, and supposed “economic development”. From the military industrial complex, to the entertainment and tourism industries, the influences of multinational capital have unfolded over decades.

Volume #1, Issue #2

The Meaning of Words (or, Democracy by Any Other Name)

Eritrea: Forget “rights” and speak of duties and responsibilities, by Abraham T. Zere

Canada lifts sanctions against Eritrea, human rights abuses continue, by Lital Khaikin

Interview with Abraham T. Zere

Under the guiding hand of the Ministry of Information, Eritrea shows the world a façade of progress. It flaunts two years of rapprochement with Ethiopia, expanding ports, and an illusion of successfully combatting the coronavirus crisis. Government officials, including President Isaias Afwerki himself, further promote the image of a functional society, manipulating public image through the complicity of Hollywood stars and influential figures who promote the photogenic side of the country, while choosing to remain silent and ignorant of the festering horrors of the regime.

This issue welcomes back Eritrean-American journalist and author Abraham Tesfalul Zere — who was one of the first authors published by The Green Violin, through a chapbook called Anecdotes of Indefinite Anarchy: Dispatches from Eritrea. Zere reminds us of the autocratic reality of Eritrea — a reality that will surely prove to be inconvenient for politicians and international capitalists amid the loosening of global sanctions against the country.

Volume #1, Issue #1

The Trenches between Languages and Nation-building

Getting the Last Word: Storytelling in Defiance of Language Death, by X.C.

Who’s Entitled? Diamond Mining and Internal Displacement in Botswana, by Lital Khaikin

This inaugural issue of The Sparkplug reflects on the impact of mining on displacement, land division and the loss of language. Languages are living fields of experience, embodying the eternal human challenge of being liberated through communication, and restricted by finite terms. The shades and tones of innumerable human languages are precious, conveying to us entirely new ways of living, thinking, and connecting. But what pushes them to the edge of disappearance?