The Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory NUBS 1.04
Jul 05, 2023 13:30 - 15:00(Europe/London)
20230705T1330 20230705T1500 Europe/London 4.1. Remembering Colonial Violence NUBS 1.04 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023
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Remembering the Kapiri: Myth, Memory and Human Bondage in Kochi and the Indian Ocean
Individual paperThe Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory 02:00 PM - 03:30 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/05 13:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/05 14:30:00 UTC
In over five hundred years, Kochi was occupied by three colonial powers 1 . The port
city also hosted communities across the globe that have played crucial roles in
shaping it. As the city evolved, some of them were forced to the margins. The
narratives of these groups often do not feature in the 'authorised' histories. Neither
do they fit within the structural frameworks of established academic disciplines.
Through this study, I try to understand how these communities and their
engagement with colonialism shaped the city. For the paper, I intend to study how
literary works encompass the process of remembering through colonial vestiges such
as shrines, churches, myths and oral folklore.

Located in the city's margins, these subaltern communities have myths and local
histories rooted in colonialism. One of which is that of the kapiri (literally, the black
man). During the early colonial period, the enslaved Indians and Africans were sold
in different parts of the world by the Portuguese and the Dutch. On the Malabar
coast, the enslaved Africans were employed in European households. When the
Dutch sacked the city and the Portuguese were forced to leave, it was said that the
Portuguese killed a black slave and buried their treasures with him believing that
they would act as a guardian angel to the treasures until the original owners returned
to the shore. These enslaved black people are remembered in Kochi through oral
folklore and sacred shrines dedicated to the kapiri or kapiri muthappan (great
ancestor). They are imagined as benevolent and kind ghosts or demigods and is held
in respect by almost all communities in Kochi. These shrines and their microhistories
are now part of the urban folklore of Kochi. They feature in novels and stories set in
the city and have strongly influenced the city's imagination. These transoceanic
comradery and reverence towards an oppressed people, pose a serious challenge to
the overarching frameworks of understanding memory.

For this inquiry, one will be looking at two novels: Ora Pro Nobis (1981) by
Ponjikkara Rafi, Adiyala Pretham (2019) by P.F Mathews and various other local
oral folklore from Kochi.

1 Portuguese (1503-1663), Dutch (1663-1795) and British (1795-1947).
Adeep Hussain
PhD Research Scholar , Indian Institute Of Technology Guwahati
“The Art of Forgetfulness”: Memory, Amnesia, and Haunting in Rhymes for Young Ghouls
Individual paperThe Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory 00:00 Midnight - 00:00 Midnight (Europe/London) 2023/07/04 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/04 23:00:00 UTC
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2008-15) was formed to examine Canada's Indian Residential Schools system, which had forcibly removed children from their families and communities since the 19th century, and its devastating effects on generations of indigenous citizens. Although it concluded that the system was a "policy of cultural genocide" and produced a list of "94 Calls to Action" in an attempt to repair relations, the commission was criticised as being ineffective; however, it did bring the issue of the residential schools to the forefront of the public consciousness and address a trauma that had been previously forgotten or denied.
During this period, Rhymes for Young Ghouls (2013) was shot and produced by the indigenous Mik'maq director Jeff Barnaby. Set in 1976 on a reserve in Quebec, the characters are scarred by the intergenerational effects of racism, addiction, and residential school trauma. Although not focussed on residential schools, this film is set in the wake of the residential school system and its traumatic effects. As Raymond Williams writes, "structures of feeling" are feelings that are associated with a group at a specific time and place, which are captured and evoked in art and culture. This presentation argues that, in addition to addressing the legacy of residential schools, this postcolonial film also creates structures of feeling to commemorate residential schools survivors. Engaging with theories on haunting as symptoms of "repressed or unresolved social violence" (Gordon), and memory, which Hirsch refers to as "an act not only of recall but also of mourning… often inflected by anger, rage, and despair," I argue that the use of spectral hauntings and episodes of recall and suppression of both memory and time creates a structure of feeling that combines mourning, anger, and despair to probe a social and cultural wound that has not been healed, and thus creates a cinema of decolonisation in an attempt to address what has never been reconciled.
Corey Schultz
Associate Professor, University Of Nottingham Ningbo China
Remembering silence: Colonial genocide in German and Namibian journalism, 2015-2021
Individual paperThe Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory 00:00 Midnight - 00:00 Midnight (Europe/London) 2023/07/04 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/04 23:00:00 UTC
Statue removals, restitutions, reparations – the colonial past is a present issue for many nations. In both popular debates and academic literature, this growing mediated interest in colonialism is often described as a turning point in cultural memory. This argument equates the growing quantity of media coverage with a change in previous cultural memory. Yet, this argument also reflects a Eurocentric perspective that colonialism is somehow a "new" issue – thus negating its central role in the memory cultures of ex-colonies. It also obscures the fact that colonialism has never been absent from Western cultural memory but has rather been the cornerstone for the representational patterns that determine how we legitimize the boundaries of belonging today.
In an individual paper, I will show how journalism is currently shaping the memory of colonialism in Germany and Namibia. Just last year, Germany agreed to pay 1.1 billion Euros in compensatory payments to Namibia for the Herero and Nama genocide – an agreement which the Namibian government has yet to sign. Against this backdrop, my questions are: Who can represent the Herero and Nama genocide in German and Namibian journalism? And what effect does this have on the connection between past crimes and present injustices since the first official recognition of the genocide in 2015? These questions probe how memories of colonialism are produced in a context of historical epistemic violence: Many witnesses of colonialism are no longer alive, and the voices of colonial subjects have often been silenced in colonial records through various representative practices. Previous research suggests that depictions of colonialism often draw on these historical records and thus repeat colonial representative practices. In my paper, I analyze this assumption by moving past a single national perspective to view (post-)colonial memory as an entangled flow of power and knowledge within and between Germany and Namibia today.
In my paper, I will first introduce a theoretical framework that connects Gayatri Spivak's concepts of silence and epistemic violence with Aleida Assmann's theorization of active and passive forgetting. Then, I will present preliminary findings from a critical discourse analysis of nine German and Namibian newspapers from 2015 to 2021. My findings indicate German historians and politicians hold key positions in speaking about the past in both nations. Yet, while Germany focuses on the genocide as a primarily cultural issue with museums and activists as legitimate institutions, in Namibia, tribes often use the memory of the genocide to claim representative power against the Namibian government. Hence, whereas colonialism is often shown in continuity with current reality in Namibian contexts, German media uses the past prospectively to legitimize current "solutions". With these findings, I hope to open a discussion on how silence is maintained or subverted in journalism's (re-)telling of colonialism today.
Presenters Christina Haritos
Doctoral Student, Free University Of Berlin
Memory Junctions: Resistance and Reconciliation in Indonesian and Dutch Literature on the Indonesian Revolution
Individual paperThe Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory 00:00 Midnight - 00:00 Midnight (Europe/London) 2023/07/04 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/04 23:00:00 UTC
This paper studies how the end of the colonial era is transculturally and transnationally remembered in two Indonesian and two Dutch novels. Acknowledging the suffering produced by colonialism is the first step towards cross-cultural ethical engagement (Craps 2013). As such it is this narrative focus by both countries, former coloniser and former colonised, on the trauma of the war that provides the grounds for rapprochement and understanding, whereas the war itself functions as the source of memory chasms. The focus on processing historical trauma, rather than the act of violence itself, offers the opportunity to go beyond simple black-and-white definitions of on the one hand perpetratorship and on the other hand victimhood. This paper adopts a theoretical framework that adapts several postcolonial memory concepts such as multidirectional memory to analyse how different memories of the same violent past open up room for negotiation and cross-referencing across nations (Rothberg 2009) and the implicated subject for how the reader is made aware of their position of agency in the postcolonial present (Rothberg 2019). Including the reader into the analysis allows for an understanding of the literary structures, or postcolonial poetics, that provide the capacity to reimagine how we understand ourselves in relation to the world, including cultural reconciliation (Boehmer 2018). Through this theoretical framework, I will focus on the thematic patterns of resistance and reconciliation which bind these novels in order to advance the decolonising of memory.
Presenters Arnoud Arps
Niels Stensen Postdoctoral Fellow, University Of Oxford | University Of Amsterdam
Associate Professor
University of Nottingham Ningbo China
Doctoral student
Free University of Berlin
Niels Stensen Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Oxford | University of Amsterdam
PhD Research scholar
Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati
 Guido Bartolini
FWO Postdoctoral Fellow
Ghent University
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