Bombed Out

Dr. Nirmal Puwar

This presentation was a part of Session four: Shock, Rubble, Clearance, From 10:00 am until 1:00 pm on Saturday 12th November, 2011, Lower Ground 02, New Academic Building, Goldsmiths


Bombed out cities were reconstructed after WWII amidst the migratory moves of post-colonial labour. The growth in conversations on the post-war period have laregely managed to eclipse the presence of post-colonial bodies. This discussion places them centre stage with reference to war, nation, memory work and the re-construction of bombed out cities.

War ceremonies iteratively and performatively define the national calendar through a series of rites. The contributions of colonized bodies have largely been drummed out of the silences of remembrance rituals that mark the national calendar or included within the registers of nationalism and militarism.

This presentation will introduce a creative public intervention built on the productive possibilities for inviting a different occupation of space, one that enables an altered imagination of how we hear and experience hitherto erased pasts, in the context of the move to encounter difference from within post-imperial nations today.

Working with the spatial practice of re-routing accounts and visceral experiences, an argument will be made for how academics have the capacity to collaboratively intervene in the public sphere through acts of curation. Different sounds, languages, and visual immersions offer a post-colonial dramaturgy for interrupting taken for granted ways of imagining the war dead.

The Noise of the Past project offers a case for how a call-and –response methodology can be activated to call out, in public, to the residual narratives of consecreated sites of memory and performative rites of remembrance, by setting them into play with disavowed sounds and images to deliver “new situations”.