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Ethnographies of trauma and migrant emotions: South Asian visual narratives of war and displacement

Annamaria Motrescu-Mayes
Pakistan Journal of Historical Studies
Vol. 1, No. 1 (Summer 2016), pp. 1-17
Published by: Indiana University Press
DOI: 10.2979/pjhs.1.1.01
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/pjhs.1.1.01
Page Count: 17
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Ethnographies of trauma and migrant emotions: South Asian visual narratives of war and displacement
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Abstract

ABSTRACT This article explores the ways in which particular images of displacement and war bypass language and function as trans-visual narratives of South Asian collective trauma, diasporic identity and contested national identities. At the core of this study are two examples of visual (self-) representation, one made in India in 1947 and the other in Sri Lanka in the late 2000s. The article aims to demonstrate that theories of visual priming and of perception can often help identify cathartic albeit camouflaged narratives of South Asian history, cultural traditions and minority self-image. Finally, the visual forensic analysis employed in the discussion of the two case studies confi rms the practical application of several theories of perception, visual anthropology and social psychology in response to the question: “Why should historians use visual records as primary research sources?”

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