A journey into the Bleeding City: Following the footprints of the rubble of riot and violence of earthquake in Gujarat, India

Manasi Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This article unfolds rubric-by-rubric the orgy of violence that shook the city of Ahmedabad postearthquake and riots. Informed by psychoanalytic ideas on the origins and vicissitudes of violence, hatred, evil, envy, notions of otherness, repudiation of femininity, and borrowing insights from cultural studies and trauma theory, the paper maps the recent sociopolitical turmoil in the city. Against the backdrop of the two disasters-2001earthquake and 2002 riots-the paper traces and explores the psychic composition of the recent violence in Ahmedabad with a view to deepen the discourse on communal trauma. One question that remains central to the proposed research is how does the communal dimension of trauma emerge as one of its distinctive clinical signatures? The research develops this question by exploring the memories (or forgettings) of violence in one form of narratives from both the Hindu and Muslim communities to those who were either witness or victims of it. The methodology included exploring and evolving ideas around memories of urban and sectarian violence through case studies and using recent literature and commentaries on both these events. Through an exploration of the psychodynamics of the survivor syndrome, collective memory, pathological mourning, the paper develops an understanding of the communal dimension of violence in the cultural setting of Ahmedabad. Drawing understandings from the psychoanalytic conceptions of traumatic memory, gradations of temporality and its impact on remembering and reconstructing of traumatic events, group dynamics, origins and impact of fundamentalist ideology-the article examines the radical gaps and disruptions, precursors of traumatic and violent experiences in the Indian sociopolitical terrain. The article aspires to keep up the verve to problematise and critique politically loaded categories like politics of traumatic memory as seen in PTSD, victims-survivor debate, and trauma from within-and-without (external reality). A key concern alongside is to evolve possibilities of anchoring the clinical significance of the narratives through elaboration on the processes of mourning, and thereby relocating individual losses in their own life contexts. The questions that haunt the city are: will the violence merely linger in the individual memory or be part of a collective depository? How would the city locate its victims and how would it look at the guilty?.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-36
Number of pages36
JournalPsychology and Developing Societies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes


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