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A Partitioned Past: Shared History of Refugees at the Western Borderlands of India and Pakistan
(Tata Institute of Social Sciences)
Philipp Zehmisch (Center for Advanced Studies, Munich)
Paper short abstract:
The paper provides an advance epistemic framework of individual life histories and alternate perspective to mainstream narratives on urban borderlands by locating commonalities and variations in borderlanders lived experiences in the context of the British-India Partition and its implications.
Paper long abstract:
The partition of British India in 1947 caused the biggest mass migration of the 20th century and a semantic and material partition of these borderlands affected communities on both sides of the territorial boundary in multiple ways. Impacting efficaciously the process of "bordering" of Selves against a factual or imagined "enemy Other". As a result, previously corresponding, often hybridized socio-cultural and religious traditions gradually transformed into means of conflict. Negotiations of citizenship and belonging came to be heavily influenced by hegemonic ethics of nationalism and statehood as well as religious conformism in contemporary society. Locating the above with the help of displaced people at the borderlands of India and Pakistan is attempted in this paper. Questions of transnational migration in pursuit of "improved living conditions" and unable to meet aspirations reduces the migrants to remain outside the social stratification and receiving no state services and opportunities. Power dynamics at the urban borderlands including the village as well as the state level further marginalises their aspirations. The displaced community remains as outsiders in the power triangle of state, regional elites and local residents. Sense of social conflict, othering, lack of mediation, dialogue, negotiations are aspects that will be unpacked with the help of the Pak-Hindu community located at the borderlands of India and Pakistan specifically in Rajasthan state. The paper provides an advance epistemic framework of individual life histories and alternate perspective to mainstream narratives on urban borderlands by locating one's self through commonalities and variations in borderlanders 'everyday lived experiences'.
Urban borderlands at the crossroads of anthropology and geography: spatiality, perceptions and social reproduction in a multiscalar perspective