“They Shared Those Bits Of History”: Reading The Tainted As A Transnational Memory-Narrative


  • Merin Simi Raj IIT Madras
  • Avishek Parui IIT Madras


This article seeks to examine Cauvery Madhavan’s historical fiction The Tainted (2020) as a memory-narrative engaging with cultural memory and colonial history and their impact in the lives of Anglo-Irish and Anglo-Indian characters of Irish descent. It examines the representations of mixed-race identities as ‘tainted’ while also foregrounding the notions of ‘nostalgia’ and ‘home’ in colonial and postcolonial historiography. Through a close reading of the text and the transnational historical context that has inspired the narrative, this study demonstrates how the novel emerges as a site where the cognitive and political potential of fiction and fictional framings help re-create as well as self-reflectively engage with historical materiality. Using the framework of memory studies, this study particularly draws attention to private memories and recollections which are transnational as well as intergenerational. The ontology and the experience of being ‘tainted’ is explored by unpacking the production and reception of desirable and undesirable subjects and the politics of forgetting, rejection, and remembrance in private as well as public lives. The article thus draws attention to how the conflicts, tragedies, and casualty caused by British colonialism have had transnational and intergenerational consequences for Anglo-Indian descendants in India and the diaspora.