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AAWH 5th Congress  

Asia and the Globe: Connecting the Past with the Present

12-13 October 2022
India International Centre
New Delhi, India


Sucheta Mahajan_image.jpg

Causes and Consequences of the Partition of Countries


This is a global phenomenon, which has drawn considerable interest among historians, other social scientists and creative writers in recent times. Countries have been partitioned on religious, ethnic, linguistic or purely ideological grounds. Sometimes the impetus for partition came from within but more often it came from external forces. The role of the retreating colonial power in imposing partition is evident in the endgames of empire, be it in Ireland, Palestine, or India. While the partition of a country and its people may have had very diverse causes the consequences have often had deep similarities. The long-term effects of the trauma of artificially dividing a people, often with violent ruptures, have remained for decades, affecting the psyche of the survivors of this division and even the current politics of the divided territories. Papers in this panel will bring out the experiences of different parts of the world which have experienced partition, and contribute to understanding the causes and consequences of such divisions.


Keynote Speaker

Sucheta Mahajan


Centre for Historical Studies,

School of Social Sciences,

Jawaharlal Nehru University
New Delhi-110067

Message for AAWH Conference

from Prof Sucheta Mahajan


The partition of countries by retreating imperial powers and its impact on post-independent polities, societies and economies is a subject that continues to generate much interest among scholars and citizens alike. Scholars have studied this theme in the context of the more well-known cases like Ireland, Palestine, and India, where partitions effected decades or even a century ago, continue to polarise society. The predicament of the people in these partitioned lands is a continuing one; the present is so enmeshed with the traumatic past as to make contemporary life vitiated by rupture and distrust. We are painfully aware of this in South Asia, where some of us remain separated from our land of birth, loss and longing being our predominant states of being.


I am delighted to be the keynote speaker for this panel and hope to bring to it the experience of decades of research into this subject and years of teaching on this theme. My initial work on Indian independence and partition triggered interest in other partitioned countries, such as Ireland. The Long Room Hub at Trinity College, Dublin provided a vibrant space for a foray into the subject from the perspective of connected histories. I found my work on the partition of India cross-fertilised by insights gained in the process of unravelling the myriad ways in which survivors of communal conflict and sectarian violence refashioned their post partitioned selves.


I look forward to speakers on this panel engaging in animated discussion on the theme of partition, be it as an imperial strategy for quitting the colony while retaining control or as a motif characterising the afterlife of the colony in its journey towards nationhood. I am sure that the diversity of participants from across Asia will be reflected in a wide range of perspectives on the theme of partition. I welcome all the participants to India for what promises to be a momentous meeting of minds.

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