Reading Response To Life And Words

995 words - 4 pages

Veena Das’ Life and Words is an attempt to capture the way in which major “events” reside in the recesses of everyday life. Drawing mainly from the aftermath of the Partition of India in 1947 and the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984, Das explores the way violence leaves its mark on the people it touches, how it affects them at the immediate moment, and how it is carried through various forms of memory and silence into their everyday lives. Das also addresses that the manner in which the nation-state dealt with and constructed the violence of events also shapes the moments of and after violence, and the way these events inhabit the everyday life. The relation of the event and the ...view middle of the document...

By defining the relations as dependent on one another, Das helps illustrate how violence from an event becomes “folded” into the everyday lives of those who survived it. Das engages with the two instances of violence at the time of the Partition and the 1984 riots in the way they affected individual lives. Through Life and Words, the readers are able to see the kinds of connection and relations one builds during these events within communities, the kinds of “othering” that happens among communities and the way gender affects these relations. Individual lives and narratives about the ways individuals locate themselves within communities and vis-à-vis other communities and how communities position individuals are the basis Das gives for understanding collective and individual relations. One of the most important institutions that Das explores within these is the nation-state and the ways in which it constructs individuals, communities, male and female citizens and how it constructs itself within these categories. These relations culminate in the relation between the event and the everyday. The event is a collective affair, while the everyday life is relatively individual. The event affects the individual through the collective, and yet I view this relation as slippery because there are no differentiating lines that separate the collective and the individual; one seeps into the other. What I find prominent is that even though the event is collective, the violence afflicted is on the body of the individual and in a lot of ways, dealing with it also becomes an individual act. This ‘dealing with’ spans a number of domains in Life and Words, like that of memory, silence, employment of stories, rumor, subjectivity, language, voice and time. The event ruptures the established understanding of what it is to be an individual, a person of a particular gender, a citizen, a part of a community and a family, and thus...

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