INMS Working Paper Series

The INMS Working Papers Series (WPS) provides members with the opportunity to publish research papers in progress on the INMS website. The aim of the working paper series is to foster innovative research culture in Memory Studies and provide researchers with the necessary guidance and tools to work on research papers which can potentially be published in academic journals.

Space Resonates with Inspirational Memories: W.B. Griffin, Lucknow Chapter – Dr Rani Massey

Abstract Space is actively “produced ” through human activity and is therefore a social construct. The production of Space Theory explains how people inhabit the world and find mediations between the world and themselves, as social and cultural agents. Since space acquires a human dimension, it is therefore mentally and emotionally embedded. This, therefore, gives …

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Locating Caste of Memory: A Phenomenological Inquiry into Memory and Experience of Caste. – Vikas Kumar Choudhary

This paper argues that the caste of memory is an unexplored phenomenon in memory studies. The paper outlines two possible epistemological categories to advance caste-based understanding of memory. The first category suggests that existing studies of memory can be grouped into Memory of Caste. The memory of caste as an epistemological category group is the work which explores the role of collective memory in consolidating the caste-based group identity. The second category is termed as Caste of Memory- this category lacks existing research- for which the paper contributes and argues that individual memory in the caste system’s context is not naïve or free of caste’s influence. In this endeavour, the work analyses lived experience of the Dalit individual as narrated in autobiography. The paper concludes that memory should not be considered caste neutral and should be accounted in the analysis of memory.

‘Burning Sikh Man’ as an Icon: Analysing Representations of the Anti-Sikh Violence of 1984 – Harleen Kaur

Remediation uncovers conformity as well as contestation. The paper analyses the remediation of the anti-Sikh violence of 1984 and decodes several medial representations to underscore their convergence in representing the image of a burning Sikh man. It investigates a novel, a poem, a web article, a painting, a film, and a commission report to substantiate the arguments. The paper questions whether the icon aids in the solidification of the cultural memory of the carnage or not. Is the image evocative enough to invoke the varied meanings of the violence, and establish it as a powerful site of memory? In addition, the paper analyses the gendered nature of the violence and the causes of the perpetrators in targeting a particular gender of the community.

Plating Memory, Tasting Grief: Exploring the Gastronomical Politics of Memory in Michelle Zauner’s Crying in H Mart (2021) – Ashmita Biswas

Food plays an important part in the processes of remembering and forgetting, thereby elevating a relatively quotidian task to an important archival process that concretizes identity formation. Food and associated culinary practices can trigger certain acts of remembrance that take up the texture and flavour of the food in question. The article explores the complex convergences of memory and culinary studies through an analysis of Michelle Zauner’s memoir Crying in H Mart (2021). The novel is entirely founded on the dialogue that goes on between the act of consumption of food and memory-making. The article studies how food manipulates the discourses on memory, belonging, nostalgia, and grief as represented in the novel. It will thus highlight Zauner’s work as a memory-narrative that engages in the visceral, metaphorical, and material affect contained within taste memories and the power that it holds in chronicling a life-narrative.

Tracing the Traces: Remembering 1992 as a Memory Trace – Smithi Mohan

A digital archive can retain and reinforce ‘memories of social collapses’ because of its ability to act as ‘memory ensembles’ demanding undivided attention. In this context, an analysis of the digital archive (Remembering 1992, Mumbai Riots: A Web Archive), a scholarly intervention by the School of Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai,, I would like to argue that this comprehensive online visual archive which traces the history of the 1992 Mumbai riots leaves ‘traces’ as attempts are made to deliberately compress and suppress those performances of dissent from national memory. Borrowing Ron Hubbard’s notion of ‘engram as a form of memory trace,’ I also argue that this digital archive is a ‘historical memory engram’ which remains as a latent memory picture, a lasting trace lingering in the interstices of times, histories and memories and reminding of an always already inherent contradiction in the Indian social psyche. In between the top-down memory of forced erasure which percolates from the records of official history, and the neutralised versions of bottom-up memory induced by imagined accounts of the event, this digital archive is a Cheshire Cat. It can be compared to Cheshirization, a type of sound change where a trace remains of a sound that has otherwise disappeared from a word.

Partition, Cinema and Prosthetic Memory: On the Cinematic Works of Ritwik Ghatak and Nemai Ghosh – Sriparna Datta

Cinema is an altogether different medium of artistic expression from literature. Its power of capturing the present has complicated the concept of memory and postmemory. The experience of a geo-political event like partition passes from one generation to another through memory. But what happens when the first-hand experience of partition is captured in a cinematic work? This essay will engage with this complex phenomenon of Indian history reflected in Nemai Ghosh’s Chinnamul (The Uprooted) and Ritwik Ghatak’s Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Cloud-Capped Star). In addition, I shall emphasise how Ghosh and Ghatak use the technique of telling and re-telling stories to recreate the partition memory in a more complex manner. However, in bringing these two works together, this article will discuss the idea of prosthetic memory and trauma related to the Bengal partition.

Memory and mobilization: The representation of collective trauma in the #Metoo movement – Kanchan Panday

Technological aids now play a more significant role in mobilizing popular movements. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have provided survivors with a virtual space to publicize their trauma-laden mental, physical, and sexual assault memories. These virtual spaces, therefore, provide a space for collective trauma, having the potential to ignite popular movements. The #MeToo movement, #YesAllWomen, and #BLM movement show that the traumatic chunks of memories possess the potential to uncover hidden patterns of suppression and sexual violence in public spaces ranging from films to MNCs to academia. Acknowledging the controversial nature of the consequent events of the #MeToo movement, in this paper, I intend to explore the role of social media in providing a space for memory mobilization in the #MeToo movement. Furthering the discussion in this direction, I also aim to conceptualize the role of Twitter in constructing an emancipatory debate for survivors of sexual assault.

(How) do we memorialise COVID-19 in the digital age? – Utkarsh Sharma

This paper tries to understand the politics involved in memorialising COVID-19 in the digital world. The COVID-19 pandemic brought forth multiple challenges in front of the world and is expected to continue to do so. How we remember the pandemic is critical to our responses towards challenges that will be posed by it in the medium to long terms. An approach that recognises failures of state policies may yield completely different answers than one that considers COVID a natural disaster. The question is as much of remembering COVID-19 as it is of how it ought to be remembered. While the privately curated National COVID Memorial exists online, it falls short in drawing any relevant connections between the dead and fails to imbue their deaths with any common meaning other than their cause of death. The question of if a memorial is required at all is relevant to this paper, especially in the digital age when images, videos and writings are widely accessible. We can view with hindsight different responses of the Indian masses to the pandemic in each subsequent wave. As videos and images swirled over the digital domain, different kinds of responses to the pandemic were generated. This paper will try to answer if a unitary meaning ought to be given to COVID-19, especially to the backdrop of alternate discourses and experiences available digitally.

Materialisation of existential aesthetics – Dr Neha Khetrapal

Maes’ proposal on existential aesthetics, which appeared in the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism in 2022, has the potential to be extended in myriad manners. Here, the attempt is to confer a material or tangible extension to his proposal. Material existential aesthetics provides scope for dialogues between artists, philosophers, historians and architects. Through their endeavours, viewers can expect to access a tangible platform for addressing existential concerns. Simultaneously, materialisation of existential aesthetics provides an avenue for researchers to examine how material forms, that include cemeteries and memorials, may help salvage people’s existential fears. As the gap between the material and existential aesthetics narrows further, the world may witness new forms of memorials that have the potential to be appreciated for both their utilitarian and artistic values.

Resisting political forgetting through cultural productions: Viewing the Kashmir Question through the frames of collective memory – Sana Shah and Aishwarya Bhattacharyya

The present paper will attempt to understand the interfaces of history and memory, in Kashmir, by looking at the kind of challenges presented by memory, as a mode of engagement, response, and resistance to the statist reading of the Kashmir Question. The paper attempts to focus on the counter-memory practices as alternative means of expressions and protests, that the local population has lately devised through popular cultural productions like musicals and arts in circulation through latest media technologies. The paper in particular will look at the potential of cultural productions, not only as alternative means of protest and resistance but also as archives of resistance, building on the works of scholars like David Lowenthal and Patrick Hutton. The paper highlights the potential for simultaneous uses of memory-making as an artifice by both the oppressor groups and the oppressed groups to necessitate further research into identification and self-identification premised on memory-politics as conceptual categories towards determining the nature, scope and challenges of memory-making for different types and scales of nationalist projects.

Camp as Moral Architecture: Memory, Migration and Resistance – Adhila Abdul Hameed

Remembrance seems to be about the past. While the Holocaust is an event in the past, the Nakba did not end in 1948. The relationship between film and reality is historically and politically infused in the films of the Palestinian new wave to create a cultural weapon that also serves as resistance. These movies are works of oppressed people’s history. This paper intends to focus on the intersections of memory and trauma in Mahdi Fleifel’s A World Not Ours and Mai Masri’s Children of Shatila, by examining the themes of traumatic identity, global and prosthetic memory in the films. The study further explores the representation of memory and how it externalizes and historicizes traumatic emotions which would otherwise remain at the level of internal and individual psychology.

Pan-African identity: A standpoint of Memory Studies – Dr. Divya Sharma

Essentially, there are three approaches to Africana history – the griotic methodology, liberation historiography, and Afrocentricity. All these have been to the end of free Africans empowering their identity politics. The griotic methodology of African historiography or the griotic framework particularly conjures up a dialogue between the present and the past as it involves helping turn oral to written. It has been used particularly by the free African Americans of the antebellum North to chart the oral/performance basis of history ascending into the textual production of history. As a distinct approach of history production, the griotic methodology started taking hold from the late 1700s through the 1830s. It was meant to counter the Eurocentric American discourses. The intelligentsia sought to liberate themselves through re-interpreting the connotational meanings/implications of “Africa,” which was viewed as a metaphorical source and destiny of the black race. While this holds true for the African-Americans, African historiography displays a similar pedestal for oral history (orature) which it sees deeply tied to identity politics. Pan-African Cultural Nationalism in African literature, therefore, intersects with the griotic engagement of African historiography and identity politics. The proposed research paper endeavours to look at this historiographical engagement in identity politics from the standpoint of memory studies.

“I was disconnected from my emotions, like a hand severed from a wrist”: Trauma, Plasticity, Unprecedented Identities and Coolness in Alex Michaelides’ ‘The Silent Patient’ – S. Kirubakaran

The last few decades have seen an increase in the research on human memory. Human brain is an extremely complicated and a unique device among the living beings. The topics covered are Plasticity, Unprecedented Identities and Coolness in correspondence to trauma, which are depicted in Alex Michaelides’ novel ‘The Silent Patient’. The characters in the novel go through various psychological conditions. Literature is an important field of introspection on memory studies. A fiction is an amalgamation of realities and possibilities. The articulation of absence in a fiction makes it a cognitive medium, for the interplay of Memory Studies and Medical Humanities. A rigid understanding of remembering and forgetting is achieved through a critical study.