Unsettling Memories

Narratives of the Emergency in Delhi

Emma Tarlo

Bibliographic Details
Unsettling Memories Paperback
June 2003£20.00
9781850654537 256pp
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Focusing on India’s ‘Emergency’ of 1975-7, when democracy was temporarily suspended in favour of an authoritarian regime, this book explores the avenues through which this event is remembered and forgotten. Based on fieldwork and archival analysis, Unsettling Memories traces the experiences and perceptions of those men and women who were the targets of the infamous slum clearance and sterilisation campaign which converged to disrupt life in the nation’s capital Delhi. Interweaving personal and official memories with a re-reading of resistance literature, ‘Emergency’ propaganda and government files, and the author offers a complex narrative of the ‘Emergency’. This book should be of interest to anthropologists, historians and political scientists as well as anyone concerned with everyday violence, the ethnography of events and life among India’s urban poor.


Emma Tarlo is a Reader in Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London.


‘It would perhaps be inappropriate to say that I read it with pleasure. since its subject matter [forced sterilisation campaigns and slum clearances] is so unpleasant, but Tarlo writes so beautifully and so elegantly that this really was something that I found I could not put down.’ — Prof. Patricia Jeffrey, University of Edinburgh