University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > History and Economics Seminar > Border crossings - mapping UK discussions about partition at the 75th anniversary of 1947

Border crossings - mapping UK discussions about partition at the 75th anniversary of 1947

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr AM Price.

Jointly with the World History Seminar

Recent years have seen significant public engagement in the UK with the history of the partition of British India. In 2017, a campaign was started to introduce a national day to commemorate the partition in the UK, as well as to include this history as a compulsory element of the British national curriculum. But how is 1947 and its legacy viewed and understood by diaspora South Asians and wider sections of British society?

Since July 2022, I have been working as part of the research team on Border Crossings, a project to examine memories and public narratives of the partition of 1947 amongst the UK South Asia diaspora at the current moment. Through surveys, interviews and participatory workshops we have been exploring how 1947 is being memorialised, with a focus on changes or shifts across generations of the South Asian diaspora, and amongst non-South Asian Britons. Through a multidisciplinary approach, focused on gender, borders, the partition, and religious identities in South Asia, the project considers how historically embedded logics of religious difference, logics that are heavily grounded in memories and public narratives of the partition of 1947, are experienced, navigated and even challenged by diaspora communities in the UK. The project looks at how people are using digital technology, virtual reality and gaming tools to creatively engage with this history, and how this is opening up new ways of thinking about 1947 and its legacies.

I will use this talk to discuss the project and share some of our findings. In particular I will examine how understandings of partition vary across generations and communities, as well as how these acts of remembrance and personal accounts of partition complicate and even challenge the historical narratives that are more dominant in the subcontinent. Through this material, I hope to reflect on what contemporary discussions of partition in the UK can tell us about the potential, and pitfalls, of public movements to think critically about empire and its legacies at this present global juncture.

This talk is part of the History and Economics Seminar series.

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