Partition's Legacies

By Joya Chatterji
Introduction by David Washbrook

Subjects: India And South Asian Studies, History
Paperback : 9781438483344, 568 pages, July 2021
Hardcover : 9781438483337, 568 pages, January 2021

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Table of contents



Part I: Identities, Decolonisation, Nation-Making

1. Decolonisation in South Asia: The Long View

2. The Fashioning of a Frontier: The Radcliffe Line and Bengal's Border Landscape 1947–1952

3. The Bengali Muslim: A Contradiction in Terms? An Overview of the Debate on Bengali Muslim Identity

4. Secularisation and Constitutive Moments: Insights from Partition Diplomacy in South Asia

Part II: Refugees, Mobility, Migration

5. Rights or Charity? The Debate over Relief and Rehabilitation in West Bengal 1947–1950

6. Migration Myths and the Mechanics of Assimilation: Two Community Histories from Bengal

7. Dispositions and Destinations: "Mobility Capital" and Migration in the Bengal Delta 1947–2007

8. Dispersal and the Failure of Rehabilitation: Refugee Camp-dwellers and Squatters in West Bengal

Part III: Immobility

9. Of Graveyards and Ghettos: Muslims in West Bengal 1947–1967

10. On Being Stuck in the Bengal Delta: Immobility in the "Age of Migration"

Part IV: Citizenship

11. From Subjecthood to Citizenship: Migration, Nationality, and the Post-imperial Global Order

12. Princes, Subjects, and Gandhi: Alternatives to Citizenship at the End of Empire

13. South Asian Histories of Citizenship 1946–1970


Essays on modern Indian history and the legacy of Partition.


Partition's Legacies offers a selection of Joya Chatterji's finest and most influential essays. "Partition, nation-making, frontiers, refugees, minority formation, and categories of citizenship have been my preoccupations," she writes in the preface, and these are also the major themes of this book.

Chatterji's first book, Bengal Divided, shifted the focus from Muslim fanaticism as the driving force of Partition towards "secular" nationalism and Hindu aggression. Her Spoils of Partition rejected the idea of Partition as a breaking apart, showing it to be a process in the remaking of society and state. Her third book, Bengal Diaspora, cowritten with Claire Alexander and Annu Jalais, challenged the idea of migration and resettlement as exceptional situations. Partition's Legacies can be seen as continuous with Chatterji's earlier work as well as a distillation and expansion of it.

Chatterji is known for the elegance of her prose as much as for the sharpness of her insights into Indian history, and Partition's Legacies will enthrall everyone interested in modern India's apocalyptic past. "What emerges from the essays," David Washbrook writes in the introduction, "is often quite startling. The demarcation of Partition followed no master plan or even coherent strategy but was made up of myriad ad hoc decisions taken on the ground, often by obscure actors. Refugee policy, immigrant rights, and even definitions of national citizenship … were produced by no deus ex machina but out of day-to-day struggles on the streets and in the courts. "

Joya Chatterji is Professor of South Asian History at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Trinity College. A former director of the Centre of South Asian Studies at Cambridge, she is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Modern Asian Studies and Fellow of the British Academy.