Echoes of the traumatic events surrounding the Partition of India in 1947 can be heard to this day in the daily life of the subcontinent, each time India and Pakistan play a cricket match or when their political leaders speak of “unfinished business.” Sikhs who lived through the pogrom following the assassination of Indira Gandhi recall Partition, as do, most recently, Muslim communities targeted by mobs in Gujarat.
The eight essays in The Partitions of Memory suggest ways in which the tangled skein of Partition might be unraveled. The contributors range over issues as diverse as literary reactions to Partition; the relief and rehabilitation measures provided to refugees; children’s understanding of Partition; the power of “national” monuments to evoke a historical past; the power of letters to evoke more immediately poignant pasts; and the Dalit claim, at the prospect of Partition, to a separate political identity. The book demonstrates how fundamental the material and symbolic histories of Partition are to much that has happened in South Asia since 1947.
Mukulika Banerjee, Urvashi Butalia, Joya Chatterji, Priyamvada Gopal, Suvir Kaul, Nita Kumar, Sunil Kumar, Richard Murphy, and Ramnarayan S. Rawat.