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Partition and the South Asian diaspora

The book by Papiya Ghosh pulls together and re-maps insights from partition, refugee, diaspora, transnational and peace studies.

india Updated: Apr 09, 2007 17:20 IST

Over the past several decades several studies have focused on how people have lived through partition and its aftermath. Many others have added regional insights into different dimensions of its enduring legacies.

This work by Papiya Ghosh, Professor of History at Patna University, seeks to widen partition studies by looking at an unwritten strand of the subcontinental partition diaspora that folded into the South Asian diasopra that folded into the South Asian diaspora in a staggered sort of way, and by detailing how partition persists in the lives of its migrants and minorities in an increasingly transnational context.

Covering six decades and underlining the interface between nations, diaspora and region, this study pulls together and re-maps insights from partition, refugee, diaspora, transnational and peace studies.

The first part tracks how Biharis negotiated getting to and claiming Pakistan in two Muhajir formations, one in the east and the other in the west.

The second part looks at the post-eighties years to show how partition is a major reference point in installing and resisting Hindutva, as well as in recasting the South Asian region and diaspora beyond the politics of the religious right.

The book is anchored in three main themes: a retrieval of the Muhajir voices and their critique of the two-nation theory; the playing out of the remains of partition in the diaspora; and the reconfiguration of the subcontinent beyond partition that is in process.

A rich resource, based on government and private archives, refugee camp narratives, family and organizational histories, diasporic mediations, literature and web postings, this book engages with and complicates themes such as denominational diasporas, the equation between diaspora and homeland, and long-distance nation and region making.

It will be valuable for those interested in South Asian studies, history, political science, sociology, refugee and peace studies.