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The Geography of Things That May Become Memories: The 2001 Earthquake in Kachchh-Gujarat and the Politics of Rehabilitation in the Prememorial Era

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Abstract:

This article explores the politics of reconstruction and the competing memorial practices that emerged after a devastating earthquake in western India during 2001. The material is drawn from extensive ethnographic research and analyses of the politics of rehabilitation in the “prememorial era,” the period before an official memorial is erected when the gap between the signified (the earthquake) and the signifier (the memorial) is still wide open and meanings and narratives of the disaster are being created, rehearsed, and contested. Many of the reconstruction initiatives undertaken after the disaster are inseparable from the politics of contemporary Hindu nationalism. Consequently, the main sections of the article examine the political nature of memorial practices and ideas about reconstruction in relation to expressions of nationalism and regionalism.

Keywords: Gujarat; earthquake; memory; nationalism; regionalism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8306.2006.00706.x

Affiliations: 1: Department of Anthropology, Goldsmiths College, University of London 2: Department of Geography and Environment, London School of Economics, and Department of Geography and Environment, University of Texas of Austin

Publication date: September 1, 2006

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