Qudsiya Contractor gives a working paper on ‚Melancholia of the past‘

In this paper I analyse how the demolition of the Babri mosque by Hindu nationalists and the communal violence in its aftermath (1992-93) is remembered in a predominantly Muslim slum neighbourhood in Mumbai. By drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, I consider how a traumatic event is given meaning through fragmented memories inscribed in urban space. My aim here is to provide a nuanced analysis of the fragmented memories of post-Babri violence in Mumbai (then Bombay) through the recollections of the city’s Muslim poor, who faced the main brunt of the violence within the spatial context of the Muslim neighbourhoods that provide for a safe social backdrop for the expression of an otherwise suppressed memory that was pushed by the official narratives of the past into marginality. I suggest that the silencing of their voices by official versions of the past can lead to the creation of an alternative sociality that addresses community concerns to break the hold of the past and imagine the future of cohabitation.

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