The Promise of Memory: Politics of Memory and Caste Inequality in Collective Memory Consolidation

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Vikas Kumar Choudhary


In the generic description of Indian society, the question of memory is about passive recollection of past. But in the caste-system based Indian experience, memory is also an active source of transforming one’s condition in the present and reshaping the understanding of past. Based on the fieldwork conducted on the sites of important Dalit monuments in Uttar Pradesh with a focus on the process of memory consolidation in individual and collective entities, the role of memory in mobilization of political narratives and inter-group inequality is examined. The core argument is that Dalits are unequally placed as an entity in the caste-based memory structure of collective memory; this unequal placement of Dalits is carefully constructed and mobilized by the dominant castes. In the anti-caste struggle of Dalits, collective memory consolidation has played a vital role in ideologically creating counter-memories to challenge the Hindutva meta-narratives. Yet, there continues shaping of collective memory of Dalits by dominant castes by appropriating Dalit icons. Thus, the collective memory of creating an integrated Hindu identity as the only source of identifying with the past recently has led to the marginalization of Dalits’ collective memory. Overall, this article highlights the role of collective memory for a meaningful understanding of the caste politics.

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Choudhary, V. K. (2024). The Promise of Memory: Politics of Memory and Caste Inequality in Collective Memory Consolidation. CASTE A Global Journal on Social Exclusion, 5(2), 201–219.
Research Articles