Thursday, February 20, 2020


Shaping embedded memories of the past
IFP Bureau | First Published: February 12, 2020 01:27:52 am
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There are multiple ways of recovering memories of the past with an aim to choose paths in the future. However, the complexities of human minds textured by the necessities of setting political agenda have made the task of recovery even more difficult. The difficulty is even more pronounced in one’s attempt to write and rewrite collective history.

Perhaps, it is this difficulty of recovering memories which gives birth to multifarious reading of the past giving enough elbow room for creating much of the confusion in contemporary times. Moreover, the way how one reads contemporary realities has most of the time been taken out of contexts by both the informed and the less informed.

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A cursory look at some of the engagements by those involved in the enterprise of writing or rewriting history in a state like Manipur shows interesting patterns on the contours of selective memories. Some proponents of the conventional approach attempt to set the record straight. They often say that the fabricated history of Manipur has misled many and the trend needs to be halted, countered, rectified and corrected. However, the idea of writing on the past or the very act of recovering memories seems to have overlapped sans the necessities of a nuanced distinction.  
The political content of existent works can be gauged from the stance taken after reviewing the present state of turmoil. From within the same school of thought, there are those who not only seek the truth but also make an attempt to see the past in the light of reason informed by the indigenised understanding of modern historiography.

Many have tried to look at the enterprise of writing history through an outdated view that all these activities are part of a revivalist movement. The rise of the localized history was made possible via the exclusion by the dominant discourse on the idea of universal approach. Certain methodological techniques adopted while writing or rewriting history have been preceded by series of subjective slogans resulting into the delight of selective memories. And the engagement that flows from the stance not only questions representation but also gives a hint to the process of knowledge production.

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However, there is a hesitation borne out of the intricate relation between current ethno-political situations on one hand and the ‘ought to be’ of history and memories, on the other.

While rejecting the imposed grand history and trying to ornate selective memories, there has been a total failure to ask whether or not one adheres to the established norms of constructing a collective history and memory of the people. Making attempts to infuse meanings to the way communities have lived eventually land in troubled waters due to subjective dominance. There has been a strong tendency to recover memories based on the idea of the ‘self’. However, one is often trapped in the whirlpool of confusion that has been projected as ideology. Here, one just needs to invoke the spirit of empirical falsification while distancing from the task of proving the correctness of past events and embedded memories.

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