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#memory

Pudu Jail - In memoriam

The violence of the postcolonial replicates itself in the space of colonial violence. What we lost (and are continuing to lose) is a lived history of the colonial experience - history erased, a self-imposed amnesia, an attempt to forget, the unforgettable.

But the effacing of objects only serves to deny us a confrontation with the traumas afflicting the collective psyche; the buildings, skyscrapers are thus haunted, in a very real way, by the residual violence of colonialism; as one walks around, within the shiny edifices, there is the unmistakable sense that this was bought at a cost: the cost of silence. The silencing is itself another manifestation of unresolved colonial violence; it destroys even as it constructs, it endlessly perpetuates itself.

To recognize this is to understand that such sites are overdetermined, with the History of colonialism hovering over the subject, structuring its every movement, such that even as it announces itself to be free, it is in reality unfree.

Thus when the Deputy Finance Minister says: "To our opinion, it’s not something to be proud of", he performs an incomplete effacement of the colonial moment, incomplete because he does not recognize that the violence of ‘erasing the colonial moment’ is exactly the performance of coloniality. By effacing the site of ‘lack’, he only succeeds in making Lack evident, its dimensions moved to the everyday (the site of the prison, turned into a ‘commercial hub’), such that ‘lack’ is everywhere speaking through us, rendering us split/incomplete subjects, all prisoners to the colonial condition, as colonized subjects (that do and can not face the trauma of colonialism).

How does one confront a disappearing memory? What can ‘we’ do? As writers, poets, artists – subjects recognizing the fact of colonialism – to respond (in the fullest sense of responsibility) is to keep this discourse alive, to ensure that the trauma is not simply effaced; to show that the everyday is pregnant with the violence of colonialism, that it speaks through us, even as we go about conducting our everyday lives (as a form of theatre, of sandiwara). To ‘recover’ Pudu Jail is not to make it a site of ‘heritage’; rather, it is to confront it as a site of trauma, a site of the continuing spectacle, a reminder that we are all prisoners, that we are truly unfree.