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What it means to celebrate South Asian Heritage Month


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It's often strange to celebrate a month that focuses on one aspect of someone's identity, when obviously, we are all multifaceted human beings. However it is worth doing because oddly enough, by focusing on one thing that unites people, we can very often see how varied they are.

South Asian Heritage month celebrates a shared inheritance of an incredibly varied and multifaceted region, with hundreds of languages, a vast geography, a wide variety of religions, and a culture that is often seen as homogenous but to anyone who knows much about it, it is anything but. And yet, there is common ground.

While there are now hard borders (or borders that we pretend are fixed but are anything but), South Asian histories and figures have roamed that vast space with a freedom that is currently unknown to us with our varied nationalisms and lines. People and alliances, rivalries and wars, have been forgotten and suppressed, either by colonial endeavour or our new attempts to fit our lives into nationalities. While a month to commemorate and celebrate a shared heritage does little to salvage that history in its entirety, it is an opportunity to look closer and see what we've missed.

The people in this list are activists, writers, trailblazers, dreamers, people who help us to escape reality and those who demand that we look at it squarely in the face and deal with it. Some experienced Partition, and genocide, others have faced courts, still others stare at the oncoming storm of climate change and nationalist conflict. Some have lived in South Asian countries almost all their lives, and others live in the diaspora and have only experienced their homeland by proxy.

Without doubt, there is much to be read, and much to be discovered.

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