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  • Writer's picturePritika Chowdhry

What is Counter-Memory?

Updated: Feb 16, 2022

As a socio-political, activist artist, I make art about traumatic geopolitical events, from a counter-memory perspective.

For example, 9/11 was a traumatic geopolitical event that happened in America. It engendered a certain kind of collective memory-making, which was overtly patriotic in nature. In all that nationalist noise, some narratives got silenced. Specifically, the stunningly high number of

Iraqi and Afghani lives lost, which is now in the millions.

I call this the counter-memory of 9/11, which I excavate and make art about.

Michel Foucault

The term. "Counter-Memory," was originally coined by Michel Foucault, in his essay, "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History," published in English in "language, counter-memory, practice: selected essays and interviews by Michel Foucault," by Donald F. Bouchard.

Foucault writes in explaining the three modalities of history... "the third is sacrificial, directed against truth, and opposes history as knowledge. It implies a use of history that severs its connection to memory, its metaphysical and anthropological model, and constructs a counter-memory - a transformation of history into a totally different form of time."

In other words, counter-memory is an individual act of resistance, to relentlessly question the veracity of "history as true knowledge."


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