ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Second World War commemoration and day to day memory practice in Nagaland, India


Watabe Haruna - Uniersity of Delhi, Delhi School of Economics, Sociology Department, Delhi, India


44 – New archival traces of the Second World War in the India-Myanmar-Bangladesh borderland


 This paper aims to examine the Second World War experiences in Nagaland from the present perspective, in people’s day-to-day memory practice. The 75th Second World War anniversary was celebrated in 2019 where the state government played a significant role in shaping and presenting the history of the war in the public and international event. This could be understood as a strategy of the state for promoting war tourism sites as well as attracting potential foreign investments. In comparison to the state’s interest in the commemoration however, local people showed less interest in the event. Through participant observation, this paper will contrast the state’s interpretation of the war largely influenced by colonial legacies, and the local people’s attitude towards their war memories and commemorations. Although less people are able to share their war experiences, war artifacts and objects named after the war can be located in people’s daily life. Such objects are far from being renamed or replaced, but are deeply embedded in their livelihood. Bomb shells are recycled to be used as church bells, cave in the hilltop named as Japan cave, medicinal plant named as Japan leaf, the list goes on. 79 years have passed since the end of the war, but the remnants of the war are preserved till date. Based on archival sources and oral narratives, this paper will address the local people’s memory practice in everyday life, and suggest the need to expand the definition of war commemoration.