'My other mother': Separated families and mourning as agency in narratives in the 1947 Indian partition

Anindya Raychaudhuri (University of St Andrews)
7 February 2013

Beginning with a brief overview of the effects of the Partition of India, Raychaudhuri’s paper seeks to understand this event from a different angle. Instead of producing another conventional historiographical account of the Partition of India he looks instead at oral history, cinema and literature as examples of contexts for understanding Partition narratives. He acknowledges that there has been little research comparing memory narratives of the event and as such argues that in order to have a full picture of Partition, oral history, cinema and literature need to be studied together. His paper contains a few interviews from a sample of 88 people born after Partition, half in Britain and the other half in India. He hopes to continue this process and interview people from Pakistan and Bangladesh. In addition to this, his paper seeks to change the way that we view the victims of Partition by rejecting the notion that they were completely robbed of agency, and argues that by reading against the grain one can find numerous examples of agency even amongst female so-called ‘victims’ – supporting this argument not just by evidence from his interviews but also through cinematic depictions of the effects of Partition.

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