FEAR OF SMALL NUMBERS: RE-VISIONING HISTORY IN BROKEN VERSES
Keywords:Counter-history, national narratives, stereotypes, Hudood Ordinances, lost voices, women’s resistance
This paper explores how Kamila Shamsie’s Broken Verses challenges the official version of the Pakistani historical narrative on the Zia regime by presenting counter-histories that mainly draw on subjective memories to highlight the marginalised voices which are left out of the dominant historical narratives. Drawing on Michel Foucault’s concept of counter-histories, this study revives the memories of multiple experiences of national history during General Zia’s regime that highlight the forgotten voices and the silent exclusions. It also deploys Appadurai’s concept of fear of minorities to investigate the culture of hate promoted by Zia’s regime to justify his policy of Islamisation in every field of national life. Zia’s Hudood Ordinances denied the freedom to Pakistani women and religious minorities, as both became the direct target of the regressive religious policies of his regime. Kamila Shamsie in her novel, Broken Verses, exposes fissures and gaps prevalent in the official national narratives by providing a counter version of history that is both inclusive and pluralistic. Moreover, this paper explores the way the novel tries to unearth the lost and unheard voices that are buried under the official version of history and documents those perspectives on nationalism that not only embrace gaps, chaos, and discontinuity but also linguistic and psychic fragmentation.
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