Heritage and the Politics of Culture
The Partition of India in 1947 resonates through contemporary Indian history and it has taken 70 years to build a public museum to memorialise it. The notion of the museum is relatively new to India, Mukherji (2009, p. 447) argues that cultural reasons may be one explanation, others argue that political reasons have obscured the possibility of there being a museum with this particular focus. However, in partnership with the London School of Economics, the first Partition Museum opened in Amritsar in 2017. It is claimed on the Museum website that: 'The Museum will ... raise the veil of silence that surrounds Partition'. This multimodal space embraces Lyotard's notion of the 'petites histoires', through its representation of Partition as experienced by the people who suffered the most at Partition- the newly formed internally displaced refugee. The museum acts as memorial, public educator, and creator of a particular narrative about the Partition inflected by the violence and dislocation that occurred in this area of northwest India. My presentation will interrogate the tensions in narratives created about this event by analysing the practices and discourses employed at this now award-winning museum. Its location the timing of its opening, and the inclusion of photographs taken by my father, a Gurkha officer whose remit was to escort refugees across this troubled region, imbricate in a complex trail that connects India, Australia and the UK.
Mukerhjee, M. 2009. Dissimilar twins: Residue of 1947 in the twenty-first century. Social
Semiotics 19, no. 4: 441 51.