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Accepted Paper:

In search of the antagonistic other: nationalism and the politics of memorising partition in Pakistan  
Philipp Zehmisch (South Asia Institute, Heidelberg)

Paper short abstract:

In Pakistan, the politics of memorizing partition have become efficaciously entangled with the process of nation-building. Setting the nationalist narrative in dialogue with activist voices, oral history and field data, the paper investigates Pakistan’s antagonistic relations to its minorities and India.

Paper long abstract:

The partition of British India was accompanied by extremely cruel, organized violence between Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus, which claimed between 400,000 and 2,000,000 lives. In postcolonial Pakistan, the politics of memorizing partition have become efficaciously entangled with the discourse of nation-building. As a result, the nationalist narrative has been framed by reifying and projecting antagonistic relations to various imagined Others. Setting such hegemonic narrations of the nation in dialogue with activist voices, oral history accounts and fieldwork data from several sites, my paper aims to investigate two antagonistic fields of politics:

First, I will show that representations of "Hindu" India as threat to Pakistan are linked to dominant framings of Muslims as "victims" and Hindus and Sikhs as "perpetrators" of partition. This one-sided discourse does not only homogenize and silence subaltern voices in an otherwise fragmented historical narrative but also effectively hinder politics of peace and reconciliation with India. Second, I will concentrate on how national identity was forged on the basis of an imagined Muslim unity aiming to encompass multiple sects, linguistic and ethnic groups. This monolithic version of nationalism hascontributed to ethnic politicization and militant challenges to state legitimacy. Further, the crafting of a homeland for the minority of South Asian Muslims ironically entailed constructing a majority nationalism that implicitly excludes religious minorities (Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Ahmedis). While citizenship has been formally granted to non-Muslims, minorities have to a large extent neither been acknowledged by others nor identified themselves as citizens with equal rights.

Panel P052
Conflicted citizenships: ethnographies of power, memory and belonging
  Session 1