Karachi vs. Kansas: #Literature

Natasha (N): One thing I think is really important in any discussion of identity is exposing ourselves to a variety of “sources” that connect us to various pieces of our identity. For me, this was always primarily through books. I first defined my ideas of womanhood through Jane Austen, followed by countless narratives on how it feels to be South Asian in the globalized world from Salman RushdieJhumpa Lahiri, Arundhati Roy, Kamila Shamsie and many more. I’ve found that by situating myself among the stories of others, I’ve been able to better articulate my own.

Faryal (F): Since we are members of the millennial generation, most of our content exposure is through social media, Netflix and the like. One amazing development has been Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None” (2015–present). It started the conversation on TV about so many issues that aren’t given nearly enough attention. Remembering where our parents came from and the struggles they had to overcome to make our lives the way they are is so important. Although they might mention it in passing, they will never impress upon you exactly how much and exactly what they went through. That one episode (Season 1, Ep. 2, “Parents”) really helped me change the way I thought about immigrant family portrayals in the media.

N: Yeah, that’s the other part about media and sources: They are so important in making us feel represented. Having more voices out there, whether or not we agree with them, is still really comforting. Personally, I’ve never felt as connected to social media as I have to literature, because while social media tends to be more conforming with the whole hashtag thing, stories are, by nature, unique.

F: I’ve recently also gotten more into Instagram and am just now discovering some amazing users who are confronting issues that I’ve thought about for a while, people like Rupi Kaur (@rupikaur_), Maria Qamar (@hatecopy) and Babbu (@babbuthepainter). For me, seeing these conversations through artistic mediums honestly makes me feel much less alone. They’ve helped me understand that the thoughts I have are valid and are shared by others with similar backgrounds. Recently, other social media outlets, such as the Tempest, have emerged. Here, I’ve found articles and op-eds that address my thoughts thoroughly. They incorporate interviews and research that seem to add weight and validity to the conversations I have with my friends all the time.

N: I think it’s sort of symbolic how we each connected to a different form of media to help us navigate how we see ourselves. It’s essentially another dichotomy within our larger Karachi vs. Kansas dichotomy that focuses on representation through emphasizing unity via literature or individuality via social media. I think which one we are drawn to depends on our respective tastes, but at the end of the day, the more hashtags or literary characters that give us that warm feeling of “relatability,” the better. What do you guys prefer? Let us know!