Accepted paper:

Understanding refugee movements across India and Pakistan borderlands: An exploration into lived realities of refugees in South Asia.


Srishtee Rupika Sethi (TATA Institute of Social Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

The paper explores politically complex location of the Indian borderlands.It attempts to explore the lived realities of Pak-Hindu refugees. Their exact status is debatable given the shared history of India and Pakistan, of being unified pre 1947 and of conflict that followed(1965,1971 Indo-Pak war)

Paper long abstract:

The paper will present the ethnography conducted at the borderlands as transition zones and subsequently as social spaces to understand them better as lived and locally imagined areas. This is done from the perspective of the conflict and subsequent partition of India that led to the biggest displacement in human history in 1947. While understanding this crisis where almost 14 million people got displaced, an anthropological entry point into its contemporary relevance and implication is highlighted. The paper contains the critical case of my ethnographic study conducted in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, to understand the implications of this forced displacement which affects the socio-political fabric and policies till date. It is significant that the overarching presence of state and its agencies present a securitised border without highlighting people's everyday realities and challenges. Discussing the porosity of the borders and its historical context has been given importance to keep the position of the refugee central in the humanitarian crisis argument. This enables us to understand the cultural commonalities and variations that are vital to learn about the immigrant or refugee experience owing to their border location. Pak-Hindus and their idea of homeland then presents a complex and layered socio-cultural topography that once was part of undivided India and in contemporary times has immense geopolitical implications. The paper thus tries to contest the dominant discourse and present a people's history along with questioning policies of the government related to people's flow across South Asian borders as migrants, refugees or simply as displaced persons

panel A02
Anthropological Contributions to Humanitarian Intervention