Jugni goes to the UK: translating Punjabi Jugni

Led by writer and translator Kavita Bhanot

Is Jugni a necklace or a firefly? Is Jugni an anti-colonial revolutionary or our inner voice connecting us to God? Is Jugni a narrative device for commenting on the state of the world or a free-spirited woman who doesn’t give a damn?

Instead of giving answers, this workshop shows how a word can be interpreted in many ways, and how translation is a multifaceted process. Through reading poetry and listening to songs, we follow some of the places that Jugni has travelled; from anti-colonial resistance Jugni, trailing Queen Victoria’s Jubilee torch as it makes its way around Indian cities, to twerking Jugni, a feisty woman who travels across 21st century Britain, from Southall to Manchester to Birmingham. On this translation journey, students explore the layers and complexity of the Jugni tradition in popular Punjabi literature and music, while thinking about representation, perspective and positionality—for example the male gaze—and asking what it means, in different contexts, to be free. At the end of this journey, students get to flex their creative writing muscle by creating their own Jugni.

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