abstract Like individuals, communities maintain records of their self-definition, creativity, constructions of the past and the future, and experiences of suffering—either in texts or in memories. However, there are domains that the textual cannot enter. These domains remain mnemonic or memory-driven and cover some of our intimate relationships, private hatreds, traumatic or life-altering experiences, dreams and encounters with the sacred. These memories constitute a secret self in all cultures, but some cultures are entirely mnemonic. They usually occupy no space in our knowledge systems and in our visions of the future and survive as inaudible stories of human potentialities and creativity, suffering, exploitation and violence. Following Freud’s idea of dream work, one can call the vicissitudes of collective memory, its “distortions,” condensations and “secondary elaborations,” memory work. The memory of the world has been diminished by the dismissive attitude towards the memory banks of the silenced and the marginalized, which survive outside the known world of knowledge or in its interstices. These dismissed memories wait for appropriate moments to return as a form of resistance, to outmanoeuvre the certitudes of policy elites, official histories and familiar canons of scholarship.
Ashis Nandy began as a sociologist and clinical psychologist but has, over the years, strayed into areas outside formal social sciences and normal academic concerns. His research interests now centre on the political psychology of violence, cultures of knowledge, utopias and visions, human potentialities, and futures. Presently he is working on genocide and on lost cities. The running themes in his work have been his concern and respect for marginalized categories and systems of knowledge and a robust scepticism towards expert-driven, packaged, professional solutions to human problems. His work seeks to create more space for concepts and categories thrown up by the experiences of Southern cultures and the algorithm of everyday life of ordinary citizens. He has authored many books, and among them are: The Savage Freud and Other Essays on Possible and Retrievable Selves (1995), Barbaric Others: A Manifesto on Western Racism (1993), Traditions, Tyranny, and Utopias (1987), The Intimate Enemy (1983), and Alternative Sciences (1980).