Vernacularization as a concept has gained circulation in our time within the ambit of South Asia: scholars use it to name what they designate as local—whether sexuality, language, architecture, religion, capital, or aesthetic practices. When claims are made for “vernacularization” as a process of opening spaces for “the local,” vernacular languages, ontologies, and epistemologies are paradoxically oriented towards English/the West. What happens if the word, term, concept, process “vernacular” loses this purchase? What might we notice if we refused to rehabilitate vernacularization in this fashion and mobilized instead an accounting of the brutalist colonial histories where it was deployed for colonial transformation? The Urdu modernist poet Miraji (1912–1949), eschewing the term “vernacular,” mined English and European languages, and other Asian and Indian literary lineages, to fill Urdu’s possible legacies through translation. Miraji established possible futures for Urdu through bygone chronicles, stories, and lyrical possibilities that were not subservient to the fluctuations of value that vernacularization carried with it.

You do not currently have access to this content.