December 2, 2023


Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Essay: Memory records what history ignores by Isha Sharma

1 min read

Isha Sharma shares a deeply personal essay in the context of the Anti-Sikh riots and the Nellie Massacre.

Kurt Vonnegut once said, “There is nothing intelligent about a massacre.” The congruity of this remark can be deciphered in terms of the history painted in public archives that excludes many catastrophic events that go against the jurisdiction of state politics reflecting the fractures of the nation-state. But history isn’t only saved in public records but is etched in public memory, in the shared experiences of trauma, injustice, and alienation suffered by millions of people over centuries.

Two such events that took place in the course of the history of the Indian Subcontinent whose effects have been excessively devastating but their records inadequate and disparate are the Nellie Massacre and the Anti-Sikh Riots. Though different on various grounds, there are many common elements that the two events share to lead a discussion about violence, memory, conflict, and public records. 

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