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Meenadchi Oral History Interview

Meenadchi is an Ilankai Tamil American facilitator and practitioner of non-violent communication. Meenadchi's interview is important to this project by discussing how collective healing might be facilitated for the Tamil community, where many community members have inflicted, and simultaneously were victims of, armed violence of fellow Tamils. This communal violence was not limited to the Tamil community, and Meenadchi also details how conversations and healing might be explored respectfully with the Muslim community that has endured armed violence from Tamil militants as well as structural violence from the Sri Lankan government.

Meenadchi begins by focusing on their journey into political nuance and appreciating the need to accept where people are at in order to foster relationships and facilitate healing particularly with those who have committed harm, who we have harmed, and/or who we may differ from politically. This requires a skillset in being mindful of what a traumatized people are able to engage with now versus what truths we hold that are not essential to communicate during interactions centered in the importance of relationship building with people as the primary mode of moving into a place of nuance with one’s politics, where it is important to normalize that we have all committed harm and this normalization is an important step in collective healing from war, and that it is ok to hold multiple and contradictory truths such as a critique of Tamil nationalism along with a love of the Tigers. Meenadchi doesn't discuss this challenging approach to collective healing and compassion in the abstract, by discussing how they have experienced harm in the movement and have also been marginalized due to gender and sexuality. Meenadchi draws from their upbringing in Hinduism (while not shying away from critiquing Hinduism's foundational and unjust caste hierarchies) and the story of Prahlad and Narasimhan and that of their namesake Meenakshi Amman, to demonstrate how a recognition that we are all connected in profound ways is a necessary precursor for a path to liberation.

This interview is also important because it documents the value of emotional realities as the real realm where political transformations are possible or not, rather than through seemingly ‘rational’ argumentation. It shows how diasporic nationalism, - and many political orientations for that matter - are born out of legitimate emotional experiences and trauma responses, and therefore need to be treated as such through skilled and compassionate facilitation, rather than with an anti-nationalist approach that is similarly just as reactionary. Meenadchi concludes with a discussion their family constellation modality, where internal and persistent conflicts are confronted through a facilitated process that interrogates what aspects of one's condition could be let go and what other aspects cannot. This interview vitally adds an emotional and psychological dimension to what Tamil dissent is and/or could be, complementing the theoretical/scholarly approach and the spiritual approach presented by other interviewees and participants of this project.

Political Engagement, Civic Engagement, Community Organizations & Organizing, Activism

Duration: 01:13:07

Date: January 28, 2022
Subject(s): Meenadchi
Type: Oral History
Source: Archival Creators Fellowship Program
Creator: Kartik Amarnath
Contributor: Meenadchi
Location: Baltimore, MD

Collection: Kartik Amarnath Fellowship project
Donor: Meenadchi
Item History: 2022-06-24 (created); 2022-06-29 (modified)

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