Violent elements: the impossible document of ‘1984’

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Helium dramatizes a traumatized witness's attempt to write about India's 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom. Depicting his attempt to write an investigative confession of complicity, the novel discloses larger patterns of fantasy, sexual economy, and gender violence that make the pogrom and his own self-story possible. Through a complex narrative framework, Helium shows that unlike legal redress, justice is never present but haunts the present from a future anterior. Helium's literary representations question the idea that literature can document the facts of an historical event so as to raise public consciousness of it, confronting the reader with what remains unsusceptible to narrativization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-361
Number of pages37
JournalSikh Formations: Religion, Culture, Theory
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Religious studies


  • Delhi riots
  • Indian emergency
  • confession
  • memory
  • narrative
  • sexual violence


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