Archive, Counter-memory

The Archive on Legacies of Conflict in South Asia: The Right To Heal is witness to the systemic disfigurements, displacements and possibilities of the post/colonial condition in South Asia in the latter half of the 20th and through the 21st century. It is a gathering place of counter-memory. This Archive is a digital and physical repository of materials relating to political conflict and victimization, social and gendered violence and human rights crimes. It holds materials on subaltern resistance and agency in seeking psychosocial restitution and well-being, and defining justice and accountability.

This Archive honors what may otherwise be marginalized, forgotten or desecrated to the public and to history.​ The Archive highlights experiences, voices and perspectives that are not widely available and have not been previously assembled into a comprehensive collection. The repository offers insight into the profound ruptures and dispossessions of history. It underscores the continuities and discontinuities of these fault lines in the present and provides contexts for shared engagement. The materials being preserved are often endangered and, in instances, the conditions on the ground are fraught.

The Archive houses relevant original, primary source materials and selective secondary materials. These are curated in collaboration with local community collectives that have been impacted by and are working to address issues of political conflict in South Asia, and their allies.

Materials in physical and digital form include oral history narratives and ethnographic records; notes, correspondence and personal letters; witness testimonies, interviews and first information records; photographs; films; sound recordings; legal documents and circulars; out-of-circulation reports; political and cultural artifacts and ephemera; and art, music and humor. The objective is to acquire digitized copies of materials, and only acquire physical materials that donors feel they are unable to preserve. No copyright or intellectual property rights are transferred.

The Archive encompasses issues and events of political conflict across South Asia since 1947. They involve but are not limited to: majoritarian and massified violence in India; conditions of subjection in Kashmir since 1990, including militarized governance, human rights crimes, the siege of August 5, 2019 and after, and civil society resistance; civil war and gendered violence in Sri Lanka; martial law and social violence in Pakistan; civil war and democracy in Nepal; political rights and civil liberties in Bangladesh.

The Archive holds materials on intersectional concerns of class, religion in the public sphere and religious freedom, gender and sexuality, ability, caste, ethnicity and indigeneity. Issues comprise minoritization, majoritarianism, and ethnonationalism; self-determination; statelessness and immigration; land and customary rights, and environmental breakdown; citizenship and unbelonging; rule of law, impunity and human rights; states of exception and necrogovernance; decolonial resistance; and contestations regarding democracy and nation-making. In addition to local community-based collaborations, the Archive includes individual collections of scholars, writers, artists and civil society leaders across South Asia and its diasporas.

The curation underscores the value of memory formations that take place counter to dominant and official histories, experiences and knowledge making.

Beginning in October 2023, the Archive and related digital exhibits will be rendered to the public over time, in fragments.

Above: Banner image is taken from: “Stepping Out” by painter and artist Arpana Caur © courtesy of artist; Below: Thumbnail 1 image: “Dharti” by painter and artist Arpana Caur © courtesy of artist; Thumbnail 2 image: Photograph of documents chronicling enforced disappearances in Punjab (1984-1995) by Robert Nickelsberg in 2014 © courtesy of PCRes-Berkeley; Thumbnail 3 image: “1947 (Memories)” by painter and artist Arpana Caur © courtesy of artist; Thumbnail 4 image: Collage by PCRes-Berkeley. Further details are available here.