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Abstract

Martyrs and their memories, being the building blocks of many cultures and institutions, are remembered and represented through various channels. Such memories have a history of functioning as narratives that establish and maintain the self-identity of religious, political and other social groups. The State Crime Records Bureau data published in 2019 shows that more than 56 political murders were registered during the last nine years in Kerala, but only a few of those murders were received prolonged public attention and celebrated as martyrdom. When we analyse this issue critically, the question of ‘why’ takes us to the nuances of the ‘constructedness’ of martyrdom and collective memory. This research paper will explore the constructed nature of collective memory and embodied martyrdom in light of the murder of Abhimanyu, a Students Federation of India (SFI) activist at Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam, who was hacked to death in 2018. Drawing from theories of collective memory and embodied martyrdom, I examine the manifold ways of memorialization and celebration of Abhimanyu’s martyrdom and how his reputation was constructed and leveraged by the reputational entrepreneur.

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