Seminar with Ananya Jahanara Kabir: ‘Archive-Repertoires of Memory’
Abstract by Ananya Jahanara Kabir:
From the year 2000 onwards, I have been preoccupied with questions of how societies, and individuals within societies, remember and forget in the wake of large-scale traumatic events. The locus of my interest moved from the conflict zone of Kashmir to the continuing repercussions of the Partition of India and, more recently, has settled on the ‘Black Atlantic’ (with an interest in marrying its theorisation to that of the Indian Ocean). At the same time, as a literary and cultural historian who likes the challenge of moving between the written text and alternative forms of creative expression, I have analysed a range of primary materials to elaborate on my hypotheses and premises: the visual and plastic arts, recorded and live music, and, now, the entirely protean realm of the moving, dancing body. Through this diversity, a central question has emerged: how do we theorise postcolonial remembering, and of course, those other attendant processes—forgetting, and memorialising? Where do we, as researchers, find the most useful repositories of memory— the classic archive? Oral histories? Creative expression? The body? Or might we analyse these different repositories as dialogic— sometimes complementary, sometimes antagonistic?
In this talk, I will draw on my past and on-going work on memory to present a prolegomenon on the possibility of an overarching ‘theory of everything’ with regards to postcolonial memory making. The title draws on Diana Taylor’s book The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas (2003), but, as is clear from the hyphenation, I move beyond the (analytically productive) binary towards a composite concept. From the olfactory to the kinetic, this talk will try and pin down the ineffable dimension of what, and how, we remember as we work through historical trauma, especially to claim our place within the narrative of modernity.
This seminar is organised by Utrecht Forum for Memory Studies in collaboration with the Utrecht Comparative Literature Seminar. For more information go here.Professor Ananya Jahanara Kabir is a literary and cultural historian based at the Department of English, King’s College London. She works at the intersection of embodiment, affect, memory, and post-trauma in the global South, so as to re-examine the regimes and pleasures of modernity. She is the author, most recently, of Territory of Desire: Representing the Valley of Kashmir (2009) and Partition’s Post-Amnesias: 1947, 1971, and Modern South Asia (2013). Currently, she directs Modern Moves, a five-year research project funded by an ERC Advanced Grant. Modern Moves examines the resilience and global popularity of Afro-diasporic music and dance created through colonialism and the slave trade.