History as Territory

1 Jul
image by Luba Lukova

image by Luba Lukova




I went to a wonderful talk last night organized by the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance on reclaiming feminisms at the grassroots.  The inspirational speaker, Sandra Moran, spoke about planting.  The first part of creating something new is developing an idea, planting a seed.  To do that, you must reclaim what is yours and decide that territory will be where something new can grow.

She mentioned 5 types of “territory”:
1. Your body; 2. Land; 3. Nature; 4. History; 5. Memory

This past year, I’ve been deeply engaged in reclaiming my territories of history and memory, and I’ve done that through writing and reading.  As I continue to revise my play, Tree of Seeds, I’m continually uncovering new connections to my Parsi history, especially that of Parsi women.  This article in particular, about Indian suffragettes in England, struck a chord with me. The first play I wrote (and produced in the 4th grade) told the story of a suffragette who organizes women to march for their rights, and is ultimately killed.


Women’s Coronation Procession, 17 June 1911, courtesy of the Museum of London



Knowing the history of my people, makes my art more relevant and vibrant. As I reclaim this territory for myself, I can populate it with new knowledge, resonance, and meaning.



What task, what activity could help you to reclaim one of these territories for yourself?  It doesn’t have to be something public, but the simple act of doing something new will lead to regeneration and new revitalization.


Remember that? I'm going for another one!

Remember that? I’m going for another one, in a sari!



This year I’ve decided to write as much as I can.  I’ve started a novel and a TV pilot.


T.V. writing is leading me to fun and whimsy.

Yes, my TV pilot is about an undocumented teen growing up in Queens, but it is a half hour sit-com filled with humor and a light touch to explore a heavy reality.  I’m learning to go with the joy of using my mind and writing what comes.

The novel writing is the most personal writing I’ve done in my life and is giving me insights into how I see the world, how I see my own story.  I am looking at hurtful memories, crying while I write, and then writing some more.

So what might you want to reclaim for yourself? Which territory do you need to access and repopulate with your own power and brilliance?  Start something, use the talents you have, it will undoubtedly lead to a bigger and more hopeful world!


4 Responses to “History as Territory”

  1. Ricardo July 1, 2014 at 10:56 am #

    Ooo. Do you have room for a Mexican immigrant on your show? I can play any stereotypical role and espeek berry berry gud da In-ga-leech (English, yo)–bodega worker, super, corner domino player, local weed dealer, windshield glass man, homey selling cigarettes for 75 cents each and Nutcrackers out of a cooler…yo, I got dis.

  2. Sabina July 1, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    Cool post. I really like what you said about reclaiming territory and listing off these different types. Lately I had been struggling with the dilemma of wondering what is the “point” of doing what I do and there are days when I feel like I’m wasting my time. Being an artist can be so damn hard sometimes.

    I love that Emmy saree pic of you, peacock blue really looks good on you!

    Good luck with your writing, I hope the novel and the TV pilot turn out well!

  3. shireen kharas July 4, 2014 at 8:23 am #

    As always,kayhan-always so creative and enterprising-all the best

  4. Jessica (Diva to you Kayhan) July 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    You have given me something to think about, I grew up thinking, (not without reason), that I had not history; when you think you have no history you also don’t have memories. I have been slowly trying to capture both.

    BTW – I have World Cup fever. I have barely missed a game, although, except for Brazil, my favorite teams, Mexico, USA and Colombia (in that order) are out of the running.

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