Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

1 - Remembrance of Things Past: Negotiating Migrant Identities in West Bengal in the Aftermath of Partition

Friday, July 6
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Amaltas, Lower Ground Floor

This paper, based on a selection of interviews with partition survivors, is an endeavour to look at the lives of people who came from East Pakistan as refugees during 1947-50, leaving behind their ‘homes’ and hearths and settling into a new life of trials and tribulations in new West Bengal. Now in their late-70s or 80s and early-90s, most of them settled in different squatter colonies, took up different jobs to sustain their families, and led seemingly ordinary lives full of struggle. The overwhelming majority of them never thought of writing their memoirs, as they considered their lives not worthy of documenting.  But now – with the Partition experience part of a distant past far removed in time from its most traumatic lived moments – they are more willing to share the memories. Through field interviews, the paper seeks to show how their lives represent a momentous new social history of Bengal that encapsulated a host of critically important changes in terms of social demographics, urban geography, mentalities and sensibilities, languages and tastes, and, ultimately, a historic expansion of the ‘women’s sphere.’ It is thus yet another attempt to see the Partition beyond the framework of an administrative demarcation of territories and to look at it from the perspective of polarization and crystallisation of identities at various levels – religion, migration and displacement, and the concept of citizenship in newly-created nation-states.


 

Aparajita Sengupta

Lady Brabourne College University of Calcutta, India

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1 - Remembrance of Things Past: Negotiating Migrant Identities in West Bengal in the Aftermath of Partition



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