Roundtable | Special Session | The Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory NUBS 2.04
Jul 06, 2023 15:30 - 17:00(Europe/London)
20230706T1530 20230706T1700 Europe/London Partition at 75 – The role of art and culture in postcolonial memory after Partition

This roundtable brings together creative practitioners, academics, and heritage professionals to discuss the communicative dynamics of postcolonial memory, with a specific focus on the role of arts and culture in South Asian diasporic memory in the UK 75 years on from the 1947 Partition of British India. Whilst at once a pivotal moment in the twilight years of the British Empire and in the formation of the modern Indian nation-state, Partition can also be considered in processual terms as a phase in the decolonising process, intimately connected to various trajectories of migration, to long-term social and political movements both in the UK and South Asia, and to other moments of local and regional conflict from the 1971 liberation war in Bangladesh to ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan. This broader understanding of Partition is rarely part of contemporary remembering. While Partition memory has periodically featured in national level public discourse in the UK, mainly at anniversary celebrations, a highly formulaic approach to representing Partition memory in the mainstream media has evolved which undermines its potential to challenge and disrupt contemporary power structures. Representational dynamics including individualisation, depoliticization, and universalism contribute to (Keightley, Clini and Hornabrook 2021) elide the role of the colonial state and neutralise Partition memory as a way of speaking back to Empire and from the distinctive position of the postcolonial subject. This forms part of a wider trajectory in the politics of representation played out in the mainstream media. As Herman Gray has suggested, cultural politics has moved away from a 'struggle to rearticulate and restructure the social, economic, and cultural basis of a collective di ...

NUBS 2.04 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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This roundtable brings together creative practitioners, academics, and heritage professionals to discuss the communicative dynamics of postcolonial memory, with a specific focus on the role of arts and culture in South Asian diasporic memory in the UK 75 years on from the 1947 Partition of British India. Whilst at once a pivotal moment in the twilight years of the British Empire and in the formation of the modern Indian nation-state, Partition can also be considered in processual terms as a phase in the decolonising process, intimately connected to various trajectories of migration, to long-term social and political movements both in the UK and South Asia, and to other moments of local and regional conflict from the 1971 liberation war in Bangladesh to ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan. This broader understanding of Partition is rarely part of contemporary remembering. While Partition memory has periodically featured in national level public discourse in the UK, mainly at anniversary celebrations, a highly formulaic approach to representing Partition memory in the mainstream media has evolved which undermines its potential to challenge and disrupt contemporary power structures. Representational dynamics including individualisation, depoliticization, and universalism contribute to (Keightley, Clini and Hornabrook 2021) elide the role of the colonial state and neutralise Partition memory as a way of speaking back to Empire and from the distinctive position of the postcolonial subject. This forms part of a wider trajectory in the politics of representation played out in the mainstream media. As Herman Gray has suggested, cultural politics has moved away from a 'struggle to rearticulate and restructure the social, economic, and cultural basis of a collective disadvantage, [to] the cultural politics of diversity [which] seeks recognition and visibility as the end itself' (2013: 772). This is despite the fact that communal legacies of Partition, manifested in both contemporary populist political movements and community structures and identities, continue to reverberate with profound social consequences. In the UK for example recent localised violence has broken out in Leicester between Hindu and Muslim groups, with institutional actors ranging from domestic religious nationalist groups to the Indian State. The need to mobilise memories of Partition in ways that properly recognise contemporary conflict as the residue of Empire and processes of decolonisation and as a result allow for community identities to be rethought and reframed, are acute. This roundtable explores how different creative approaches, from animation, to community sound projects, to walking tours can re-invigorate the mnemonic potential of Partition and disrupt the impoverished representational politics of mainstream media, to speak back to the legacies of Empire and the contemporary inequities that it underpins, both domestically and internationally. Contributors from ethnomusicology, the heritage sector, animation studies, sound studies, and media studies, discuss the extent to which creative, community-led interventions can be supported, and how far they can enable us to reach beyond a politics of visibility, to engage in genuinely relational and transformational forms of remembering.

Research Associate
,
Loughborough University
Lecturer
,
Manchester Metropolitan University
Lecturer in Ethnomusicology
,
University of Manchester
Founder
,
A little History of the Sikhs
Professor of Media and Memory Studies
,
Loughborough University
Research Associate
,
Loughborough University
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