Accepted Paper:

Lifting the Veil of Silence of Partition : The Pluralistic Roles of the Partition Museum in Punjab  


Jasleen Kandhari (University of Oxford )

Paper short abstract:

Punjab's Partition Museum is a people's museum on the narratives of the India-Pakistan Partition in 1947. This paper considers the stories of love and loss behind the heritage objects on display and addresses the museum's role as a space of memory, healing and a memorial of the Partition generation.

Paper long abstract:

The Partition Museum in Amritsar in the province of Punjab, Northwestern India opened last year on 17 August 2017 on Partition Remembrance Day to mark the 70th anniversary of Partition of British India. 1947 witnessed the largest documented forced migration in history with up to 20 million people displaced in the South Asian subcontinent, yet there has been silence. The Partition Museum is dedicated to the memory of the India-Pakistan Partition relying on donations of memorabilia from the Partition generation comprising octogenarians and nonagenarians to provide objects including utilitarian items, textiles such as turbans, saris and Phulkaris, documents, photographs and shared oral histories from 1947, serving as exhibits in order to examine the pre- and post- Partition era through the memories of the people of the Punjab and its legacy. This paper shall consider the stories behind the heritage objects on display in this museum on themes of love, loss, turmoil and longing for an era gone by and hope for the future. The role of this museum shall be considered in this paper as a space of memory, healing, learning, reflection and reconciliation as well as a space that memorialises the grit, courage and spirit of the Partition generation. The importance of this museum shall be addressed as a research centre that will lift the veil of silence surrounding Partition in keeping the unheard, ordinary voices of the Partition generation alive and their stories intact.

Panel P015
Breaking the Silence: Heritage Objects and Cultural Memory