Working through the Memories of Partition
This chapter looks at people whose professional identities have been shaped by their own and inherited memories of partition. Using extracts from oral history interviews with artists, writers, academics, community activists, and rehabilitation workers, as well as other interviews and formal autobiographical work, it examines how people’s experiences of partition create particular economic challenges and opportunities in the post-partition world, which, in turn, allow people to create new professional practices and identities. These economic practices range from working in refugee-rehabilitation immediately after partition to illegitimate or illegal activities on the part of refugees attempting to rebuild their lives. Over the years since partition, this form of agency widens to encompass literary and artistic practices, academic work, and community activism. A closer look at how these people mobilize their memories and family stories will show that partition needs to also be seen as a productive event, in the sense that it not only helped to produce identities (“Indian” and “Pakistani”) but it also helped to produce “work” in the form of academic research, artistic production, and social and political activism—all of which provide examples of the articulation of agency on the part of the narrating subjects.
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