Harajit Goswami

Assistant Professor

Department of English

 Sikkim Govt. College

Tadong, Gangtok. 737102 (Sikkim)

Research Scholar, English Dept., NEHU, Shillong




The recovery and re-interpretation of a past which may have been systematically misrepresented, debased, demonised or erased by the imperial or colonial regimes as a part of their Europeanizing and “civilizing” missions of the “natives” is a fundamental concern of Postcolonial Studies. The process of colonization involves indoctrination and institutionalization of Euro-centric values which is invariably followed by a disruption and devaluation of indigenous cultural identities. The postcolonial project is often an attempt to reverse the process.  The endeavour is to recover the rhythms and idioms of a culture that remain embedded in the collective memory of the community in spite of subjection and attempted erasure.  In this way, alternative discourses are developed to subvert the hegemonic design of imposing a grand narrative, either of colonial values or that of the nation that, on the other hand, leads to the marginalization of lesser known cultures. This paper seeks to examine the manner in which Mamang Dai’s Legends of Pensam attempts to re-visit, rediscover and re-present the traces of cultural ethos that forged the singular existence of a tribal community. The web of lores that feature in Legends of Pensam is an attempt by the author to explore and resurrect the culture and identity of a marginalised Adi tribe inhabiting the Siang valley of Arunachal. Following the oral tradition, the stories delve into the myths, legends, beliefs, rituals, traditions and practices that go into the formation of a way of life and the singular identity of a tribe. It is an “insider’s” attempt to go back to her roots and retrieve the cultural ethos of a community so that they are not lost in the onslaught of modernization and globalization.

Key words: Postcolonialism, Culture, Identity, Representation, Oral Tradition.

Postcolonialism and the Retrieval of the Past: A Critical Study of Mamang Dai’s Legends of Pensam