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Voices of Partition

September 17, 2015

partition posterHistorians have approached the dramatic experience of the 1947 Partition of India and Pakistan with different perspectives over the years, struggling to grapple with such a pivotal and traumatic portion of South Asia history. Early works focused on high politics, elite decision makers, and questions of causation. Later, influenced by feminist scholarship, scholarship turned to the lived experiences of individuals through oral histories. More recently academics have sought to explore the ways in which the messiness of Partition was not limited to a few months or even a single year, but rather was a lengthy process which is still not complete.

Unsatisfied with a lack of memorial or monument to something as pivotal as Partition, the global South Asian community has begun to produce an alternative way of remembering and narrating: crowd sourced digital archives. The 1947 Partition Archive, based out of the University of California, Berkeley, endeavors to collect the recollections and stories of as many Partition survivors as possible. Conducting interviews in the United States, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, they are working against the clock as more and more people with memory of the events pass away.

In April, 2015 the UW South Asia Center hosted “Voices of Partition,” a public event in which three Partition survivors living in the Seattle area shared their memories. Complete with chai and samosas, the event filled the Walker Ames Room of Kane Hall with over 80 attendees. Students, faculty, and members of our local community came together to learn more about Partition and contribute their own thoughts and recollections.