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‘A certain terror’: corporeality and religion in narratives of the 1947 India/Pakistan partition

Anindya Raychaudhuri
Oral History Forum d'historie Oral

This article will take as its case study the 1947 India/Pakistan partition, and is based on a large oral history project, which took place over the last five years. In this article, I focus on selected excerpts from some of my interviews, examining the ways in which people describe religious belief, practice, prejudice and violence as corporeal experiences, with markers of religiosity often inscribed on the body. I examine how the corporeality of religious violence was not an aberration from everyday religious practices, but in effect an extension of religion as an embodied entity.

Communal Violence in Princely States During Partition (1947)

Kanwaljit Kaur
Indian History Congress

Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny

Amartya Sen
W. W. Norton & Company

Violence Trauma and Loss

Jasbir Singh
Guru Nanak Dev University

The partition of the Punjab in 1947 was one of the most cataclysmic events in the history of human civilization. It lingers as a pivotal moment not so much for the political significance, but for its lasting impression of monstrosity and horrific emotional duress. The year 1947 stands distinctly in the troubled history of the Punjab when it was partitioned resulting in massive displacement of millions and communal frenzy leading to widespread rape, abduction and killings.

War and Peace in Modern India

Srinath Raghavan
Palgrave Macmillan

Looting in the NWFP and Punjab: Property and Violence in the Partition of 1947

Ilyas Chattha
South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies

According to Police Special Branch intelligence reports, amidst the chaos of Partition, over 60,000 ounces of gold were stolen from fleeing Hindus and Sikhs in 1947. Alongside political identity and religious organisation and territorialisation, desire for wealth or property was a key trigger for the continuation of the Partition violence. This article documents organised communal violence which erupted in the NWFP and Punjab during 1946–47 using largely underutilised police and intelligence reports from the period. The empirical focus of the article is two-fold.

The Violence of Memory: Renarrating Partition Violence in Shauna Singh Baldwin's What the Body Remembers

Deepti Misri
Meridians, Duke University Press

This article explores how Shauna Singh Baldwin's novel What the Body Remembers builds on Partition feminist historiography in order to exhume and retell the story of family violence against women during India's Partition, intended to “save their honor” from rioting mobs. While feminist historiographies have restored Partition survivors' memories of violence to the historical archive, Baldwin's novel explicitly foregrounds the role of gendered bodies in and as the archive of communal memories of violence.

Partitions and their Afterlives

Radhika Mohanram
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Communalism and Sexual Violence in India: The Politics of Gender, Ethnicity and Conflict

Megha Kumar
I.B. Tauris

Gender and Violence in Historical and Contemporary Perspectives: Situating India

Jyoti Atwal
Iris Flessenkämper
Routledge India