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Idols in the Archive

  • Manan Ahmed Asif
Extract

Is a circumcision, for example, an exterior mark? Is it an archive?

Let me begin at the beginning.

My left eyebrow has a scar. It is jagged, and usually the droop of the eyebrow hides it from view. I see it sometimes when I look in the mirror. When I see it, I am reminded instantly of my father. He was sitting, reading a newspaper, on the lawn of our Lahore house. It was near to 6:00 p.m.—late evening to dusk. I had recently conquered the art of biking and I was eager to show him how well I rode. I kept going past him on the bike, but he was engrossed in the paper. Finally I decided that to really get his attention, I would need to go really, really fast. I went a ways, and began to pedal furiously. Right as I gathered full speed and came up to him, I looked at him to see if he was watching me. He wasn't. That split second, however, was enough for me to lose control of the bike, which swerved radically to the left, and I went face-first into a column of bricks. He looked up as I stumbled up, my eye covered in blood. I have no memory of this, except for when I “see” my scar.

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Copyright
References
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1 Derrida, Jacques, “Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression,” Diacritics 25, no. 2 (1995): 15.

2 For an overview of the princely states in India, see Ramusack, Barbara, The Indian Princes and Their States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

3 See Ahmed, Manan, “The Long Thirteenth Century of the Chachnama,” Indian Economic and Social History Review 49, no. 4 (2012): 459–91.

4 See Asif, Manan Ahmed, “Ways of Seeing: Pakistan's Paradox of Knowledge and Denial,” The Caravan: A Journal of Politics & Culture (June 1, 2011), http://caravanmagazine.in/perspectives/ways-seeing (accessed October 9, 2013).

5 Derrida, op. cit. note 1, p. 57.

6 On dust and archives, see Steedman, Carol, Dust: The Archive and Cultural History (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2002).

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The Journal of Asian Studies
  • ISSN: 0021-9118
  • EISSN: 1752-0401
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-asian-studies
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