ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Politics of Memorialising Violent Memories

Violence and the Burden of Memory: Remembrance and Erasure in Sinhala Consciousness by Sasanka Perera, New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2016; pp xvii +322, 745.


A society that has been traumatised by collective violence over decades will be haunted by painful memories which cannot be easily erased. Negation only represses memories into our subconscious with unintended consequences later. To cope with such remembrances, we must find conscious ways of expression that help healing wounded memories and recalling affirmative ones. Mourning loss and grief, and celebrating victory and deliverance are part of this commemorative process.

All societies must remember their history to learn not to repeat it, either as tragedy or as farce. Personal and collective memories are tied in with personal and collective identities. Memories shared connect and enrich, whereas memory loss impoverishes and distances. Personal memories are treasured in family narratives and albums, while collective memories are embedded in a people’s past through their traditions and legends, literature and art. However, memory is always selective. What we remember and how we do so defines the process of remembering and forgetting and dictates the memorialisation, such as to remake the past so a projected future can be premised on it.

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Updated On : 7th Sep, 2018
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