Speaking Mountains: Critical Regionalism in the Kangri-language Poetry of Naveen Haldoonvi


Christian Morgan James (Indiana University)

Throughout his career as an author and educator, Naveen Haldoonvi (1948-2022) worked tirelessly to promote the Kangri dialect as a medium of artistic and intellectual expression. In homage to these efforts, this paper examines some of the processes by which Haldoonvi’s book-length serial poem Bolla Karde Phāṛ (“Speaking Mountains”) emphasizes the distinctiveness of Himachali language and customs. Through close reading alongside interviews with Haldoonvi’s colleagues and family, I show how Haldoonvi’s writing interrogates local and global conceptions of what makes Himachal Pradesh unique, exemplifying a method of cultural critique known to Americanist folklore and cultural studies as critical regionalism.

Part of 07-04 Exalting the Folk at the Feet of Himalaya: Representations of Folklore in Himachal Pradesh, India [hybrid], Saturday, October 15, 8:30 am–10:00 am