Organized Panel Session
Partitions or territorial separations are predominantly studied as national histories so much so that their cross-regional and intra-regional comparative histories are scant. Global histories of partitions are even harder to come by. Yet, imperial authorities, international organizations and post-colonial nation-states have undertaken partitions of territories throughout the twentieth century. Partitions deliberately created new borderlands and minorities to perpetuate the authority of the external power that undertook the partitions. The drawing and redrawing of borders produced new forms of refugees, statelessness and minorities in the borderlands, and new modes of alienation, exploitation and myth-making in the name of the nation-state. This panel explores the connected histories of twentieth-century partitions in south, southeast and northeast Asia. Sakura Christmas (Bowdoin College) illustrates how the Japanese partitions of the Mongol territories in the 1930s based on landscape and livelihood led to environmental interventions, population transfers and territorial dispossession. Pankhuree Dube (Dartmouth College) demonstrates the flawed policy of refugee resettlement in post-colonial India, where refugees fleeing the 1947 partition and the 1971 genocide were given lands to cultivate that belonged to the indigenous “Gond” people with devastating consequences for both. Jayita Sarkar (Boston University) shows how the origin of the statelessness of the Rohingya people lay in the divided loyalties of the Second World War in the Burma-Bengal frontier, the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan, and the 1948 Burmese independence. Professor Willem van Schendel (University of Amsterdam), a world-renowned expert on borderlands and violence in Asia is the chair and discussant of the papers.