Accepted Paper:

Metonymies of memory: re-tracing the remnants of time in Downtown Srinagar, Kashmir  
Bhavneet Kaur (Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi)

Paper short abstract:

How do we represent the everyday life in militarily occupied Downtown Srinagar in the 1990's? A visual allows a direct indexical relationship of memory to the past but there is no singular mnemonic medium that can capture the exactness of the past. What do we do in the absence of this exactness?

Paper long abstract:

In bringing the past to life, I imagine the past through patches of experiences, oral embodied testimonies and an affectively transmitted but invariably contested post-memory. This conjured up patchwork of the past that generates metonymies of experiences and memories cannot always be represented through a tangibly constructed archive. On the contrary, as Eva Hoffman explicates in the context of the Holocaust, "these memories—not memories but emanations—of wartime experiences kept erupting in flashes of imagery—in abrupt but broken refrains" (2004, 9). Most of the anthropological and historical work on memory attempts to im-penetrate and integrate into language, these "broken refrains" and "flashes of imagery". But in this paper I argue that these memories and experiences are sometimes a disarrayed amalgamation of that which is and remains un-traceable, un-sayable and un-representable. In that context, one must ask that does each event of the past need a visual signifier to legitimise its ontology? What do we make of phenomenological experiences and everyday events that can be captured only affectively through memory? In the absence of a material archive of the past, how do we re-imagine the past? And particularly in that absence, how do we represent and recall 'the pain of others'? (Hirsch, 2008, 104). These are the questions central to my work on remembrance, life and death in Downtown Srinagar.

Panel P18
Bringing the past to life: narratives, practices and spaces of memory-making