Visiting Scholar Annie Zaidi on home, nativeness and belonging

ndian writer Annie Zaidi. | Ritam Banerjee/The Nine Dots Prize

Winner of the Nine Dots Prize to give lunchtime lecture on ' The Wandering Brother: Possession and dispossession in the homeland'.

ndian writer Annie Zaidi. | Ritam Banerjee/The Nine Dots Prize

Annie Zaidi is a freelance writer whose work encompasses many genres, from reportage to novels, poetry, theatre and essays. Based in Bombay, she began her career as a journalist and has since used her writing to explore and interrogate concepts of identity and culture.

Zaidi’s was recently awarded the Nine Dots Prize for Bread, Cement, Cactus, a mixed-genre essay that blends personal observation with reportage. It is this prize that has brought her to Wolfson to spend several months at CRASSH expanding the concept of the essay into a book that explores how a person's sense of ‘home’ might be conceived, or reframed depending on circumstance. You can read an extract from Bread, Cement, Cactus here. The book will be published by Cambridge University Press in May 2020.

On Wednesday 30 October, Annie will speak at Wolfson's Lunchtime Lecture on' The Wandering Brother'.

In India, one of the first questions you heard was about your 'native place'. Not necessarily where you live but where you belong. Can a place, a certain administrative demarcation, lend you roots though? And if yes, what is the nature of these roots?

In a time when people are not only moving more often and much further from their ancestral villages and towns, the question is further complicated by new technologies that can potentially bring new cultural experience, and even a sense of community, to any corner of the globe. 

Paradoxically, through nativist movements and an aggressive nationalism, citizens seek to define themselves not in terms of who they are or what they value, but through who they are not.

The Nine Dots Prize is judged anonymously and funded by the Kadas Prize Foundation, a UK-registered charity established to fund research into significant but neglected questions relevant to today’s world. The Prize name refers to a lateral thinking puzzle that can only be solved by drawing outside of a box of nine dots arranged in three rows of three.

The foundation was established by Peter Kadas, who has worked around the world for a number of leading institutions. Originally from Hungary, he holds Canadian and British citizenship and currently lives in Barcelona, Spain.