Voices of Difference

Author: Kathinka Sinha-Kerkhoff

Abstract:

This article deals with two sets of memories of the Partition of British India in 1947. The first is defined as “Partition memory”; the second set consists of the memories of Muslims who reside today in the state of Jharkhand, India. The author shows that the “enactment” of Partition memory — at different times, in different places and ways, and with different intentions — reinforces the original division of British India into two separate nations, along religious lines, and divides people into binary-opposed but internally homogenous communities of “Hindu locals” and “Muslim foreigners.” Drawing on interviews conducted in Jharkhand in 2000-2001, the author shows that local Muslims experienced the events of 1947 very differently from what Partition memory would suggest. Their memories, which are rarely included in the official history of Partition, challenge the dominant history by underscoring multiple identities based on region rather than on religion. The author concludes by emphasizing that memories similar to those presented in this article should be included in the official Partition history for two reasons: they challenge the threat that a one-sided presentation of Partition memory poses and they will enrich and possibly even transform official Partition history.
Regions: South Asia
Countries: India

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