Help Khajistan Save Unloved Histories

Read the full pitch HERE.

Hi dear, I am Saad Khan. I am a filmmaker and archivist born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan, and now living in Brooklyn, New York. My latest documentary film is Showgirls of Pakistan. I am asking for your support for my independent archiving project, Khajistan.

Khajistan, established in 2017, preserves the cultures and creative works of the underclasses in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran, through Khajistan Archive, Khajistan Radio, Khajistan Press, Khajistan Bazaar, and Khajistan Releasing.

Much of the underclass in the region is represented by poor, queer/trans/Khwaja Sira, ethnic and religious minorities - including but not limited to the Pashtun, Hazara, Christian, Ahmadi, Baloch, and Jewish communities.

Khajistan believes that history should reflect the collective knowledge and art of all peoples. However, the wardens of history continue to be selective in what they deem acceptable and worth saving. Additionally, the modern nation-states which now form over peoples of south and south-west Asia are suffocatingly censorious to narratives not in line with some form of national culture.

Khajistan believes a national culture only upholds the moral standards of the class in charge. It is manufactured for the erasure of the lives and cultures of the indigenous and underclass peoples of these lands. We at Khajistan strongly believe that archiving should be done without judgments based on morality and politics. These biases leave out the lived experiences of the silent masses who are cut out from the expensive history writing and saving process.

Khajistan takes inspiration from the fierce survival and resourcefulness of the Khwaja Sira community of South Asia in particular. One of the oldest and most widely attacked communities in the region that despite being shut out of polite society and its institutions, shows how culture and customs can be retained and celebrated for centuries, through oral history and adopting a code language. 

These communities have no time to document culture. They're caught up fighting for their own bodies, civil rights, and shelter.

The inclusion of their stories and works, along with the stories and works of other marginalized groups, is essential for the creation of an inclusive history; a history that is not only just representative of the lives, tastes, and morals of the ruling elite.

Khajistan is that history.

The modern documented history and art of the region, especially in the last 60-something years, is curated by elite spokespeople from this region. These globally interconnected gatekeepers are far removed from the infinite realities of those on the margins. They choose to see and package history for global consumption often with a high-class editorial lens. A lens that sees the marginalized groups as mere parodied helpless objects, not yet fit for entry into modern infrastructures of being.

Khajistan archives the personal truths, fears, humor, and joys of people of the region in the form of memes, videos, images, live streams, and other forms of user-generated content (UGC).

Khajistan translates censored books, preserves, and digitizes audio cassettes, vinyl records, old film posters, and VHS by working directly with small collectors, working-class artists, editors, researchers, and archivists in the region. 

Another important thing to note is how climate change is destroying these artifacts. This past flood accounted for the loss of many documents, already rusted and undigitized film cans, and “banned materials” that will never be recovered. Most collectors and artists are poor people and are living in conditions that are not safe from the devastation of climate change. This work has become a race against the clock.

Thus far Khajistan has saved over 3,500 Lollywood and Pashto vinyl records, and over 5000 old Pashto, Punjabi, and Urdu film posters. We have digitized 378 Pashto, Punjabi, Farsi, Seraiki, and Urdu cassettes and 185 Pakistani adult and showbiz magazines from the 1950s - 1980s. We need funds to preserve, digitize, transport, and book safe storage for the physical materials.

Here are some projects for which we need your support:

1. Loose Canons:
A holy bible of film reviews covering five decades of savory and unsavory, celebrated, and ignored regional Pakistani cinema by Omar Ali Khan.

2. 500 Posters of Pakistani Cinema (1947 - 2018):
A collection of the 500 best Urdu, Pashto, and Punjabi film posters from our archives.

3. The Real Colors of Filmic Fairies:
English edition of an independent book by Urdu film historian, Khurshid Alam about the underbelly of Pakistani cinema, focusing solely and salaciously on the origins of female actors in Lollywood.

4. The Curse of Homosexuality:
English edition of a sermon delivered in 1986 and later published as a manual for madrassa teachers on how they can avoid being attracted to the children they teach.

5. Challawa by Sabiha Bano:
An episodic lesbian autobiography published in 1970s Karachi.

6. Aurat Raj (1979):
An atomic bomb in a Pakistani village leads to the swapping of genders among its inhabitants. A fabulous scathing satire on Lollywood films and Pakistani life.

7. Adam Khor (1991):
Horrible hairy behemoth on a gruesome rampage in this wild Pashto shocker film.

Despite being fiercely independent and self-funded (broke) our work has never stopped and never will. We are driven by the need to keep alive more than one narrative for our current and future kids so they can see themselves in these histories, their histories, and not just the ones funded and written by military leaders, religious leaders, and national 'culturemakers'.

Your support will help cover the publishing and distribution costs of five books and the re-release of two Urdu and Pashto movies. It will help us pay our expanding team of translators, subtitlers, designers, assistants, researchers, archivists, and editors. 

By donating you will also be supporting us in keeping Khajistan Radio afloat on the internet.

There's not one history, there are many. Please help us in recovering and preserving them by helping us reach our funding goal and by sharing our fundraiser with those who can support Khajistan. Thank you


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Saad Khan
Brooklyn, NY

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