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v2.1 Reference

Remembering Air India

The Art of Public Mourning

On June 23, 1985, the bombing of Air India Flight 182 killed 329 people, most of them Canadians. Today this pivotal event in Canada's history is hazily remembered, yet certain interests have shaped how the tragedy is woven into public memory, and even exploited to advance a strategic national narrative. Remembering Air India insists that we "remember Air India otherwise." This collection investigates the Air India bombing and its implications for current debates about racism, terrorism, and citizenship. Drawing together academic analysis, testimony, visual arts, and creative writing, this innovative volume tenders a new public record of the bombing, one that shows how important creative responses are for deepening our understanding of the event and its aftermath.

Contributions by: Cassel Busse, Chandrima Chakraborty, Amber Dean, Rita Kaur Dhamoon, Angela Failler, Teresa Hubel, Suvir Kaul, Elan Marchinko, Eisha Marjara, Bharati Mukherjee, Lata Pada, Uma Parameswaran, Sherene H. Razack, Renée Sarojini Saklikar, Maya Seshia, Karen Sharma, Deon Venter, Padma Viswanathan

About the Authors

Chandrima Chakraborty is Associate Professor in the Department of English and Cultural Studies and University Scholar at McMaster University. She has published extensively on nationalism, masculinity, and cultural memory, with a focus on South Asia and the South Asian diaspora. Publications include, Masculinity, Asceticism, Hinduism: Past and Present Imaginings of India (2011), Mapping South Asian Masculinities: Men and Political Crises (2015), a feature section on the Air India bombings in Topia (2012), and a double special issue, "Translated Worlds: History, Disapora, South Asia" in Postcolonial Text (2015). Her SSHRC-funded research project, The Unfinished Past: Turbans in an Age of Terror, examines the cultural ramifications of post-9/11 violence against South Asian communities in North America. She co-organized an international conference on the Air India tragedy in 2016 and she is conducting interviews with Air India families to learn more about memories of the Air India Flight 182 tragedy and its aftermath for her research project, "A Study of the Afterlives of the 1985 Air India Bombings." Amber Dean is Assistant Professor of Gender Studies and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Her first book, Remembering Vancouver's Disappeared Women: Settler Colonialism and the Difficulty of Inheritance (2015), offers a critical analysis of the public representations, memorials, and activist strategies that brought the story of Vancouver's disappeared women to a wider public. In addition to publishing work on the topic of Air India, she has also published several journal articles and book chapters on artistic and (counter)memorial responses to murdered or missing women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, and on gentrification in Edmonton, Hamilton, and Vancouver. With Vancouver writer Anne Stone, she has guest edited a special issue of West Coast Line on representations of murdered or missing women, and she has contributed chapters to several edited books, including Reconciling Canada: Critical Perspectives on the Culture of Redress. Angela Failler is Canada Research Chair in Culture and Public Memory, and Associate Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Winnipeg.


"[Remembering Air India] is an important book. It explores, through a number of essays, poems and excerpts from the public record, a question that should haunt us all still: why has this terrible disaster been relegated to the very margins of public memory?... The focus of this book is not just on a failure of surveillance, policing, intelligence or the court system. Its theme is a wider, and painful, reality: the failure to embrace the Air India bombing and its aftermath as our own...." [Full review at]—Bob Rae, Literary Review of Canada

"When 329 people, mostly Canadians, perished at sea in the 1985 Air India bombing, there was ... no mass public mourning. The only memorial was in County Cork, Ireland, near the spot where Flight 182 took whole families to their death. Few Canadians recall the year this mass murder occurred. The victims were modest people of ordinary means and little public profile. Would it have been different if 329 bankers died, or 329 tennis players? Of course. Would it have been different if 329 white Christians died? Remembering Air India answers this last, jarring question.... Remembering Air India is a poignant postmortem on memory and culture." [Full article at]—Holly Doan, Blacklock's Reporter

"Another standout for its typography, which is pleasing at a glance and impressive on closer inspection. The complex content is demanding, and the solutions are elegant, displaying sensitivity to the subject and cohesiveness while connecting the many structural elements of the page."—Jury Comments, 36th Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada, 2017 - Prose Non-Fiction (Second Prize)

"As a testimony to how the cultural landscape of the world is constantly in flux, Remembering Air India shows how no act of terrorism exists in isolation and may have consequences even after decades have passed. [This collection reclaims] an incident that was neglected from public conversation for the longest time."—Shraddha A. Singh, British Journal of Canadian Studies, Vol 32, Nos 1-2, 2019-2020

"Remembering Air India underscores the profound need for acknowledgement, especially after trauma... This acknowledgement, the book suggests, involves open-endedness rather than quick resolution, a commitment to memory as 'difficult return,' and a willingness to see rather than cover up histories of racism."—Tracy Whalen, TOPIA, September 2021

9781772122596 : remembering-air-india-chakraborty-dean-failler
Paperback / softback
360 Pages
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