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Journal Article

Magic Tricks: The Politics of Memory, State, and Tribe in Lahaul, India

Himika Bhattacharya
Vol. 13, No. 1 (2015), pp. 157-185
Published by: Indiana University Press
DOI: 10.2979/meridians.13.1.157
Stable URL:
Page Count: 29
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Magic Tricks: The Politics of Memory, State, and Tribe in Lahaul, India
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Abstract This article traces the memories surrounding the death of an adivasi woman, Shalini, from the northwestern Himalayan (adivasi/tribal) region of Lahaul, India. By focusing on how the memories of her death evolve in both official and community discourses, this article sheds light on some key issues within the complex web of tribe and state politics in India. These two discourses co-constitute each other and transform Shalini's death from pertaining to (gendered) violence to eventually being dismissed as an accident. Thus, violence (against adivasi women) becomes the register on which the otherwise oppositional patriarchies of state and tribe collude and produce the woman as both an unreliable subject and a target of violence. Finally, the article explores counter-memory as a means to rearticulate and reframe the memory of Shalini's death where her subject position is that of a believable agent, one who is not (pre)determined (as unreliable) by state and tribal patriarchies.

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