While walking through any historical ruins, do you usually listen to the noisy screams of the dominant Meta-narrative of the ruling classes? In the meanwhile, have the mute noises coming from the dark cracks of the monuments, ever grabbed your attention? Have you also noticed the silences inscribed on the deteriorating walls and corners, covered in textured Molds?
I recently visited the ruins of the British Presidency in Lucknow. The 18th-century building now a historical place Supposedly commemorating the So-called First war of Independence of 1857, Ironically Before the Idea and formation of the current nation-state itself. This narrative itself developed during the anti-colonial movement leading to the formation of the three distinct nation-states in the subcontinent. debunking the two nation theories of the so-called nationalist leading to partition. The rules have changed the contexts has changed and so the interpretations. But thinking what discourses might have shaped the perception of the peoples involved? The rulers and the those being ruled.
“The company government you work for uses cow and pig fats for making Guns cartridge. See what these Christian Firangis are making you do.
Can you call your self a true Hindu or a Muslim again? Don’t your blood boils after hearing it? what about the pride of your worrier caste? what kind of a man you are? ”
And the soldiers working for the British East India company (ECI) rebelled in 1857 and the British Residency building’s situated in Lucknow was brought down to earth. The British (EIC) after annexing Bengal we’re entering into a treaty of subsidiary Allianz with the Princely states (PS). The British Residency (now in Lucknow) in the princely state of Awadh ruled by The Nawab, was established as per the treaty, with cost and maintenance born by Nawab and ECI promised the protection from internal and external aggression, and managing external affairs. It resulted in the Prince ruler enjoying the pension without many responsibilities.
It was an interventionist policy of the EIC to enter into the internal affairs of the PS and make the ruler completely dependent and subsequently annexing the PS by allegations of gross mismanagement and violation of the treaty.
The rulers had resentment after getting tricked out of power.
The soldiers were vengeful. Leading to a rebellion.
The rebel soldiers siege the presidency of Awadh. Casualty documented of Killing around 2000 British including mostly children and women.
The so-called nationalism might not have any meaning at that time. So has no part in the formation of the soldier’s identity at that time before the existence of the concept of the nation-state. He as a soldier must be serving his master whoever is in power and pays him. However, apart from being a soldier, his identity might have been shaped by his religion, caste, class, and gender. The other meta-narratives running with their respective social axis and structures through which one signifies.
So it might be the case the soldiers felt their identity threatened and stripped off because their religious sentiments were challenged. And they called for a rebellion. The discourse of the war. But it was a different case for the ruler, his identity associated with power is demolished with his rule.
He uses his position of power to justifies his rule by manipulation of the meta-narratives of religion or Dharma. Conveniently within the context. This is the power of the meta-narratives produced by the one in power in their vested interest creating the categories manufacturing the identities and then manipulating them. Like British themselves created the meta-narratives of civilizing the barbaric subjects to justify their colonial rule. And the process continues with forming counter-narrative, the creation of the meta-narrative of the nation-state and ‘nationalism’ through which the subject identifies.
By discarding some, suppressing some and appropriating some, fabricating as it suits their position, and combining of the older and the newer meta-narrative ruling class continuous to dominate. Like recent manufacturing of the most lauded, Nationalism and Religion. What remains for the other, nothing but millions of dead corpse with the manufactured Identities just continue to the stack up washing up the true meaning in the waves of dominant discourses.
What might be the version of the stories of the slaves, the dancers, lower castes, the sex workers, who worked in the presidency? The stories of the dead British women, the children. The stories who of those who were excluded. Even the story of Begum Hazrat Mahal who played her part to fight for her rule after taking the power.
The numerous stories of the so-called outcasts, the so-called voiceless. The manufactured identities which were only meant for being used and manipulated, by robbing their authentic selves. The stories and experiences perceived as insignificant. The stories which are buried under the dominant meta-narrative. Can these stories subvert the hallucinations of those meta-narratives?
#Metanarratives #Nationalism #Colonialism #identities #Lucknow #Presidency #Postmodern