CALLIOPE on the road: Memory Studies Associaton conference

The Third Annual Memory Studies Association Conference was held at Complutense University Madrid, Spain, from 25th to 28th June 2019.

CALLIOPE post-docotral researcher Esha Sil chaired a session and presented a paper at the conference. Her paper was titled 'Embodying the Partitioned Bengali ‘Other’: Memory, Darshan, and a Materialist Poetics of Adda'. The abstract is as follows:

My paper examined the traumatic memorial legacy of the 1947 Bengal Partition via the popular talking-practice, adda. It demonstrated how this ‘quintessential’ Bengali pastime betrays a complex materialist poetics of revaluating a post-Partition Bengali subjectivity and its multisensory strategies of forgetting and remembering the uneasy affect-worlds, produced by the cartographic rifts before and after ’47. I accordingly close-read an adda between an East Bengali refugee woman, Bangabala, and a West Bengali tribal artist, Panchanan, from Ritwik Ghatak’s 1974 film, Jukti Takko Aar Gappo (Logic, Debate and a Story): my paper analysed how Ghatak’s cinematic imaginary mnemonically intersperses adda’s leisurely verbal transactions with an embodied experience of ‘divine-sight’ called darshan. Ghatak’s synesthetic technique of juxtaposing a practice of talking with a practice of seeing, I argue, mirrors the psycho-social confusion of a partitioned Bengali body-politic, as it struggles to make sense of its fragmented modernity. This struggle is evocatively enacted by the acoustical realm of Bangabala and Panchanan’s adda, as it spirals into two competing visions of Bangabala’s darshan as the ‘Brahminical’ and ‘tribal’ avatars of the mother-goddess, Durga, manifesting a schizophrenic rupture in what I have delineated as the disjunctive memorial trajectories of Bengal’s bhadralok and non-bhadralok histories.