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This panel explores subterranean modalities of remembering and forgetting through both earthly (e.g., farming, ruination, burial) and unearthly (e.g., magic, curse, haunting) engagements with land, focusing on how they acknowledge past political violence that otherwise seems unacknowledged.
Postcolonial, psychoanalytic, and feminist theorists have highlighted the divergences between nationalist historiographies and other ways of remembering or forgetting. Challenging universalist and homogenous approaches to time and narrative, these theorists have attended to the localized, incoherent, and fragmented ways in which individual and/or collective memories operate, citing as examples trauma victims or subaltern communities whose relations to the past are severely curtailed through colonial-modernist framings. This postcolonial, psychoanalytic and feminist attention has been characteristically charged with material and spatial import; place, geography, topography, objects and the body have been explored as the media of the localizations, incoherences and fragmentations in question. Despite this interest in materiality and space, the conventions of narrative-based remembering or forgetting have yet to be deprived of their hegemonic status, as affective potentialities unassimilable within the contours of memories qua narratives remain underexplored. This panel seeks to explore these potentialities by focusing on how the land in which one dwells affects the remembering or forgetting of the past and the forgings of identity. It explores subterranean modalities of remembering and forgetting as indicated not only by the unearthly practices of magic, curse and haunting, but also daily and mundane—earthly—engagements such as farming and burial. The panel comprises ethnographically grounded accounts that highlight how the practice of unearthing—in both senses of rendering unearthly and digging up from the earth—might offer a way into the analysis of publicly unacknowledged histories of political violence and individual or collective struggles to assimilate them.