W. van Schendel
- `I Am Not a Refugee': Rethinking Partition Migration
- Modern Asian Studies
- Volume | Issue number
- 37 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
In the wake of Partition - the break-up of British India in 1947 - millions of people moved across the new borders between Pakistan and India. Although much has been written about these 'Partition refugees,' a comprehensive picture remains elusive. This paper advocates a rethinking of the study of cross-border migration in South Asia. It argues especially for looking at categories of cross-border migrants that have so far been ignored, and for employing a more comparative approach. In the first section, we look at conventions that have shaped he literature on Partition refugees. The second section explores some patterns of post-Partition migration to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), and he third uses oral evidence from cross-border migrants to present a number of case studies. The concluding section underlines that these cases demonstrate the need for re-examining historiographical conventions regarding Partition migration; it also makes a plea for linking South Asia's partition to broader debates about partition as a political 'solution' to ethnic strife.
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