Obliterating Collective Memories and Learning About the Nation: A Reflection on the Educational Experiences of Adivasi Communities

Publication Type:

Journal Articles


Shalini Dixit


Media Watch (2022)




Collective memory, community history, education of Adivasis, history and identity, marginalised memories, memory of nation-state


In a diverse society like India, the nation-state has imperative to select certain collective memories to be its unified official narrative and be taught to its students. However, in a quest to hand over a unitary vision of the nation, the states often overlook the multiple sources of knowledge, assuming only the school as a mode of transmission about the past. There are documented debates around the Indian state selecting one version of history over the others. But, not much is known about the reception of such knowledge by the marginalised communities in India. Although the relationship between memory, history, identity and social relationships has its grounding in psychology, the discipline has been governed by different reductionism, which does not facilitate understanding and explanation of such complex social issues. (Marty, 1994, Wertsch, 2002)
Nevertheless, learnings from social psychology can be extended to understand the complexities around collective memories, social identity and marginalisation. This article will discuss the dynamics involved in dealing with marginalised collective memories and foreground students’ experiences of learning mainstream collective memories. It argues that dealing with exclusions and denials of one’s collective memories has implications for one’s identity and sense of self. It may lead to individuals and communities devaluing their collective memories, thereby undermining their social position and identity.