It has come to this. On or about May 31, 2011 you will be able to purchase Where the Wild Frontiers Are: Pakistan and the American Imagination – a curated, edited collection of my posts from CM and elsewhere. Some fine folks have contributed immense amount of their time and talent to make this happen and I am still a bit unsettled about it.
CM was a space invented for an imaginary audience by a frustrated (and easily distracted) graduate student. From its beginning, it was consciously an “academic blog” and I participated in many forums (online and offline) about the meaning, the mode, the future and past of “academic blogging” [curious folks can look up this and this as two early examples]. One part of this engagement was my insistence that “blogs” were a publishing venue which democratized a certain aspect of academic speech. Another part of this engagement was my deep unhappiness in the way it handled archives. They vanished – relying solely on the Search box or the vagaries of Google. Back then, Google was good.
Helena Cobban, at Just World Books, had a brilliant idea in producing curated books from blogs covering timely subject-material. Joshua Foust, of Registan, was the one who introduced me to Cobban and she was enthusiastic about the possibility of CM existing as a published archive. After some massive help – the first foray into the archive jungle was done by Farangi and SalmaanH and, put together by Sabrina S. – I was able to put together a somewhat thematic coherence to the book. Another round (or was it two) of editing happened.
My dearest friend and co-blogger Lapata, then contributed her art for the book (and the cover). Amitava Kumar generously agreed to write the foreword (which is humbling!) and some other people who have way more things to do than time to do it in, agreed to blurb it.
You will, certainly, hear a lot more here about the book and I will certainly beg and plead (not now, though) you to buy a copy. It is launching in the US first, but there will be a e-book version and I am keen on getting it published in Pakistan/India (if you know someone who knows someone etc…)
April 8, 2004 is when CM was officially launched to an appreciative audience of well, a few. Here, I found the INITIAL EMAIL ANNOUNCEMENT! *BREAKING NEWS*
From: Manan Ahmed
Date: April 13, 2004 2:37:18 AM GMT+02:00
To: manan ahmed
Subject: Chapati Mystery
Pardon the mass email. It will be the last under the “cool” heading that most of you have been suffering from me in the past.
In that regard, I draw your attention to
this will be my home for a while.
hope to hear from you there.
ps. i am sepoy.
In the next day or so, I will be posting a HUGE HUGE ANNOUNCEMENT. I would make it now but I don’t have the necessary graphic and you know how it is, without fotos, life is just bland.
I love you all, I love Lapata and Farangi and Patwari and everyone who has ever read and commented and shared and liked and spread a word of CM. It really has been an amazing experience and I will write more gushy stuff on this in the MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT etc.