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

A+| A| A-

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 peoples 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.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

INR 59

(Readers in India)

$ 6

(Readers outside India)

Published On : 5th Sep, 2018

Support Us

Your Support will ensure EPW’s financial viability and sustainability.

The EPW produces independent and public-spirited scholarship and analyses of contemporary affairs every week. EPW is one of the few publications that keep alive the spirit of intellectual inquiry in the Indian media.

Often described as a publication with a “social conscience,” EPW has never shied away from taking strong editorial positions. Our publication is free from political pressure, or commercial interests. Our editorial independence is our pride.

We rely on your support to continue the endeavour of highlighting the challenges faced by the disadvantaged, writings from the margins, and scholarship on the most pertinent issues that concern contemporary Indian society.

Every contribution is valuable for our future.