Dr Chris Kaplonski (University of Cambridge)
The Many Lives of Secret Police Files: Repression, Rehabilitation and the Hermeneutics of Documents in Mongolia
This talk examines the implications of the legal rehabilitation of victims of political repression from the socialist 1930s in contemporary, post?socialist Mongolia. In a span of about 18 months, approximately five percent of the population were convicted as counter?revolutionaries or spies and executed, roughly half of whom were Buddhist monks. Since the collapse of socialism twenty years ago, the Mongolian state has initiated a process of rehabilitation for those repressed during the socialist period (1921?1990). This process is contingent upon the existence of records of the original act of repression, and it is the implications of this contingency that will be explored. In particular, I focus upon the way documents are used to judge the fitness of a particular person for rehabilitation while simultaneously constructing the past they seek to document. There is a curious triple process taking place whereby the documents used to originally convict a person, and the descendants of the documents, are used to reinvestigate, reconstruct and overwrite the documentable past.
Part of the Postcolonial Empire Group seminar series.
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