This article analyzes the regimes of truth and efforts at falsification that emerged aft er the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka, where the experience of fear, the blurring of memory, and the fabrication of identity became normalized during the course of a long civil war. By shedding light on the memorialization processes in a Buddhist Sinhala village on the border of the northeastern Tamil zones, the article shows how the tsunami has reinforced governmental devices for controlling peoples and territories, insinuating itself into the core of the enduring process of securitization of fear in Sri Lanka. Yet, however much the politics of memory tends to cloud matters, the article also demonstrates that it never goes uncontested, as long as subjects can channel their capacity for action in unexpected directions.
War and disaster in a Buddhist Sinhala village
Museums, Power, Knowledge
Michel Foucault argues that truth is not to be emancipated from power. Given that museums have played a central role in these “regimes of truth,” Foucault’s work was a reference point for the debates around “the new museology” in the 1980s and remains so for contemporary debates in the field. In this introduction to a new volume of selected essays, the use of Foucault’s work in my previous research is considered in terms of the relations between museums, heritage, anthropology, and government. In addition, concepts from Pierre Bourdieu, science and technology studies, Actor Network Theory, assemblage theory, and the post-Foucaultian literature on governmentality are employed to examine various topics, including the complex situation of Indigenous people in contemporary Australia.
The thesis I consider in this essay takes the form of a chiasmus. Just as Heidegger’s Nazism requires us to re-evaluate his 1943 interpretation of Nietzsche as an instance of what Michel Foucault, in a 1978 interview, called a “regime of truth” (Foucault 1980: 133), so too does Foucault’s 1983 claim that a Heideggerian reading of Nietzsche determined his philosophical development (Foucault 1996: 430) call for us to inquire into the “unthought” of Foucault’s philosophical project. To re-read Heidegger by way of Foucault, I submit, is also to re-read Foucault by way of Heidegger. At stake in this thesis is how to understand Foucault’s concept of “power”. Or, more to the point, at stake is how to understand the twist with which Foucault closes that same 1978 interview: “The political question, to sum up, is not error, illusion, alienated consciousness or ideology; it is truth itself. Hence the importance of Nietzsche” (Foucault 1980: 133).