|Title: Mukti||Dates: 1983-1987|
|Periodicity: irregular||Price: 40p (1983); 70p (1987)|
|Circulation: unknown||Place of Publication: London|
A collectively-run British Asian feminist magazine. Established by a group of Asian women from London and Birmingham. Set up to make space for the stories and voices of Asian women – spaces that neither the mainstream media, the black press nor the white feminist press had adequately provided. Had a uniquely practical focus, offering its readers advice and guidance on issues such as immigration, housing, working conditions and education. Published in six different languages: English, Urdu, Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali and Punjabi. Received funding from the Greater London Council (GLC) and Camden council. The word ‘Mukti’ refers to a form of political and/or spiritual liberation. For instance, the Mukti Bahini were Bengali guerilla forces who fought the Pakistani Army in the war with Pakistan in 1971. In street slang, mukti can also mean cool, laid-back, stylish.
[Some details derived from Outwrite 12 (March 1983), p.2.]
Mukti‘s Mission Statement
“I have a mind but I can’t express because no-one taught me how to express. I want to write on paper but I can’t, I feel that something is stopping me. Maybe I feel that I’m not good enough to write, because what I want to write I can’t write – I wish I could… I would like to write about women’s life.” –
‘SISTERS! Many of us feel like Rifat and it was with the conviction that we must start to write about our lives and the changes that we can make that last year a group of us started to meet to talk about bringing out a magazine. We wanted to write about the many aspects of our lives, the good and the bad. We wanted to read about our sisters [sic] struggles against oppression we face as women, black people and workers. Our experiences are almost absent from the media… We must start to write our own stories, create our own pictures, share our struggles and our triumphs.’Mukti 1, p2
- Institutional racism, especially in the criminal justice and healthcare systems
- Arranged marriage
- Deportations and immigration law
- Objectification of South Asian women in the media
- Violence against young women and girls
Although relatively text-heavy, Mukti is rich with visual detail. Several of the collective members were artists, and some (such as Chila Kumari Burman, Mumtaz Karimjee and Zarina Bhimji) are now internationally known. There are few photographs, and the magazine was printed in black and white. Most images are handdrawn or produced using letraset, and frequently feature textile-like borders, ornamentation or motifs (mimicking the patterns of South Asian textiles) that frame or break up the text. ‘The textures of the South Asian diaspora are reflected in the magazine’s distinct verbal and visual vocabularies’ (Bazin, unpublished conference paper, 2023).
For Correia, Mukti reflects ‘part of a wider generational shift that sought to produce unapologetic powerful writing and visual art that expressed the particular experiences of being female and South Asian in Britain’. Covers were printed in bold, single colours (yellow, red, blue, pink, or green). The cover of issue 2 is a photo collage, but the rest of the covers feature original drawings that illustrate the theme of each issue: housing, work, education, family etc.
Mukti was published amid a hardening of racist attitudes in Britain in the 1980s, and in the wake of harsh immigration policies such as the British Nationality Act of 1981. This Act placed new restrictions on immigrants from the Commonwealth, and limited British citizenship to those with a parent who was a British citizen or who was ‘settled’ in the UK. The Asian women’s movement increased in strength and power since the late 1970s, inspired by Asian-women led campaigns such as the Grunwick strike (1976) and influential publications such as Amrit Wilson’s Finding a Voice: Asian Women in Britain (1978). Although the Black women’s movement was an important source of solidarity for British Asian women, the principle of African-Asian unity meant that Asian women at times felt sidelined within organisations such as OWAAD (the Organisation for Women of Asian and African Descent) whose leading activists were of Caribbean descent, and were correspondently underrepresented in publications such as FOWAAD, OWAAD’s newsletter. Mukti provided British women of Asian descent with a space of their own. Came to an end when Margaret Thatcher’s government abolished the GLC.
Mukti collective, predominantly made up of artists and teachers, including:
- Adarsh Sood
- Amina Patel
- Kiran Patel
- Meena Sarin
- Rita Dutta
- Mumtaz Karimjee
- Pramile Pai
- Chila Kumari
- Burman and Zarina Bhimji, among others.
Many issues of the magazine give first names only, making identification difficult.
Printers, typesetters, publishers and distributors
- Typeset by Bread n Roses
- Printed by Trojan Press.
GLC and local council funded. Paid at least one full-time worker (see editorial, Mukti 2).
Connections to other feminist magazines
Advertised in Spare Rib and Outwrite.
Further Reading about Mukti
Alice Correia, ‘Mumtaz Karimjee: In Search of an Image’, South Asian Diaspora Arts Archive https://sadaa.co.uk/studio/files/Mumtaz-Kiramjee-essay.pdf
Althea Greenan, ‘CONSISTENTLY PRESENT: ALICE CORREIA ON SOUTH ASIAN WOMEN ARTISTS’, Animating Archives: https://sites.gold.ac.uk/animatingarchives/consistently-present-alice-correia-on-south-asian-women-artists/
Laurel Forster, ‘Chapter 7: Mukti: A Magazine ‘Against Oppression as Women, Black People, and Workers’, Magazine Movements: Women’s Culture, Feminisms and Media Form (London: Bloomsbury, 2015)
|Where to find Mukti: |
Feminist Archive South;
|Digitised copies: |
Gulshan Rehman, ‘Self-Defence’, Mukti 1, British Library