Event — Webinar

Worlds of War. ‘Global’ and ‘total’ wars in the social memory of violence in the Indo-Burma-Bangladesh borderworlds

An online interactive lecture by Aditya Kiran Kakati

This lecture will take place from 11:00 - 12:00 a.m. Amsterdam Time (CET).

The Lecture

The latest cycle of violent civil war unleashed after the military coup since February 2021 in Myanmar includes extensive airstrikes in minority-dominated regions like the Chin hills. Once again, many of its inhabitants, who have longstanding experience of facing ‘total war’, seek refuge across the border in Mizoram.

Aditya Kiran Kakati discusses the memorialization of the Second World War (WWII) with other 'wars' to unshackle its Eurocentrically hegemonic genealogies.

He argues that these genealogies concealed historical continuities of violence in social memory catalyzed by the 'globalizing' effects of WWII. Such genealogies were appropriated and leveraged by the postcolonial Indian nation-state and their dissidents, like the Lushai/Mizo' frontier tribes' who experienced longstanding 'total wars' calibrated by colonial rule.

By stretching the spectrum of 'total wars' before and after WWII, he seeks to unsettle received notions and chronologies of conflicts through memories, vocabularies and experiences of violent events, and 'whose wars' were at stake. It reveals the long history of coercive state-making on the Indo-Burmese border worlds, which WWII both interrupted and later fuelled. He explains the ubiquity of violent conflicts here and how the historical baggage of coercion is whitewashed or preserved in social memory.

The Speaker

Aditya Kiran Kakati holds a doctorate in International History and (with a Minor in Anthropology and Sociology) from the Graduate Institute, Geneva (IHEID). Aditya is an Affiliated Research Fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies (llAS) in Leiden, the Netherlands. He is an Early-Postdoctoral Mobility Fellow, granted by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) in the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands and SOAS University of London, United Kingdom. The postdoctoral project is titled Blind Spots and Blank Spaces: borderworlds and frontiers at large (1944-1962), which examines the relationships between violence, development, infrastructure and state-making to investigate how ‘remoteness’ is historically produced at the margins of emergent nation-states, which in turn has created shadow zones of armed violence and illicit economies. His PhD thesis was titled Living on the Edge: How encounters with global war (WWII) re-made the Indo-Burma frontiers into bordered-worlds.


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The Expedition for the Punishment of the Lushai Hill Tribes

From The Graphic of 4 May 1889, p. 457 (front cover of individual issue). Image scan by Simon Cooke.