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Volume 40, Number 1 (2015)

Un/Authorized Exhibits: Elegiac Necropolitics in Renée Sarojini Saklikar’s children of air india

November 30, 2015


Renée Sarojini Saklikar’s children of air india is a book which takes as its subtitle “un/authorized exhibits and interjections,” well aware of its position as public dirge, un/official archive of voices and names, and interruptive document to the official story of Air India Flight 182. Official accounts foreground the facts: there were 331 people -- including 280 Canadian citizens of South Asian heritage, 82 of whom were children under the age thirteen -- who died when a bomb exploded on that plane off the south-west coast of Ireland on June 23, 1985. The “un/authorized exhibits and interjections” of the text and its embedded grief politics are championed by an oppositional figure of a female mourner in public space as a critic of postmodernist “despairing rationalism,” much as philosopher Gillian Rose discusses in her elegantly-titled Mourning Becomes the Law (7). Rose asserts that the law, if it is still the law that serves the citizenry and not an ideology that serves itself, has no other ethical choice but to acknowledge this truth: female mourners, by insisting on mourning as an act of justice, “reinvent the political life of the community” (35). The literary and other artistic manifestations of such mourning duty, and the philosophical injunctions to challenge and trouble the law through persistent mourning, are central to the project that drives children of air india: to “write the names all the way through” (Saklikar 113).