Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

2 - Looking Forward, Moving Back: Partition, Migration and Memories in Pakistani Urdu Literature.

Friday, July 6
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Location: Jacaranda II, First Floor

 “Without knowing that nomadism is a creed of life and among poetry most difficult genres, he found his way to a tattered amphitheatre and began to dream of tightrope walkers.” Afzal Ahmed Syed. A number of projects aimed at collecting and preserving the memories of Partition and of the post-colonial experiences of South Asian people have flourished in the recent past both in India and Pakistan. The centrality of the experience of Partition’s migration in collective memory clearly emerges from these narratives. Much less space, however, has been given to the migration processes triggered by the progressive transformation of contested national spaces in the region. In this regard, the collapse of the Pakistan national project in 1971, and the consequent wave of “return” migration towards West Pakistan, still represents a controversial moment in national history; abandoned by official historiography, its memories have been nonetheless appropriated through literature. Though often not explicitly addressed in the texts, migration in this particular historical context influenced the relationship with the physical and metaphorical boundaries of the nation, and the sense of belonging of those who experienced it. The aim of this paper is to explore how the violent experiences of displacement of those who migrated “back” to West Pakistan after the creation of Bangladesh permeated literary texts and to analyse the relationship between literary modes of expression and the relative silence of history.

Cecilia Bisogni

University of Naples “L’Orientale”, Italy

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2 - Looking Forward, Moving Back: Partition, Migration and Memories in Pakistani Urdu Literature.



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