ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Partition Representations from Eastern India

The Partition of Bengal: Fragile Borders and New Identities by Debjani Sengupta; Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 2016; pp xii+274; 585 (hardcover).

The partition of India is unending. Seventy years down the line, it continues to affect the geopolitics of South Asia, in Kashmir and the disputes over borders and illegal crossings. Its memory makes significant guest appearances every time there are communal riots, enabling distinct moments such as 1984, 1992, and 2002 to fold into the popular memory of 1947. In this sense, partition is also elastic (Sarkar 2009). Partition continues to draft and redraft the memories and post-memories (Butalia 2003) of multiple generations in the subcontinent even as speaking about 1947 remains difficult, and the meanings of the event and its aftermath shift as people recollect and interpret incidents differently. In this sense, partition has generated multiple memories and different histories dependent on caste, class, religion, gender, and location of individuals and families.

Literary and visual representations created in the post-partition decades offer us yet another distinct path through which to understand and contextualise such diverse experiences and meanings of 1947. They offer a shift away from high politics and nationalised histories to focus on the human experiences, bring to the forefront the trauma of violence and uprooting, the nostalgia and sense of loss of friendships and homelands, and address silences, anti-memories to articulate the reframing of identities. When it comes to partition literature, academic scholarship has tended to focus on the works that deal with the horrors of Punjab at the expense of those that centre on the Bengal partition (Didur 2006; Bhalla 2008; Saint 2010).

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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