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Vortrag | Memory & History: Testimonies and Narratives from the Partition of India, 1947

16.11.2023 | 18:00


Speaker: Prof. Dr. Sucheta Mahajan (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi)

Organised by Susanne Klengel, project Border Temporalities and/in Literature, Research Area 1: "Competing Communities" in cooperation with the Institute of Latin American Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. This event is part of the lecture series "Border Temporalities: Doing Literature in a World of Walls".

The lecture explores the relationship between memory and history in the context of the partition of India in 1947. It seeks to move the discussion on the subject beyond the usual binary, the juxtaposition of the two, one the meta narrative, the other the small voice. Memory work, collection of testimonies, in this perspective, becomes complementary to the task of the historian; it is not counterposed to it. Another question raised is regarding the applicability of the paradigm of the Holocaust to other sites of conflict. Sites where the distinction between perpetrators and victims is not so black and white and the perpetrator in one place is often the victim in another. Ireland, India and Rwanda are cases in point. Related to this is question of the validity of the perspective of the imperative of remembering, adopted from the Holocaust, in other contexts. Commentators on the partition of India have simplistically counterposed this imperative to remember to the silence of the survivor. Instead, could we not speak of a dialectic between remembering and forgetting, a movement back and forth?



Sucheta Mahajan is a Professor at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She has been Gillespie Visiting Professor at the College of Wooster, Ohio, a Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center and a Visiting Professor at the Maison des Sciences de l'homme, Paris. Her books include Independence and Partition: The Erosion of Colonial Power in India (2000); India's Struggle for Independence (1988; with Bipan Chandra et al); RSS, School Texts and the Murder of Mahatma Gandhi- The Hindu Communal Project (2008; with Aditya and Mridula Mukherjee) and Education and Social Change: MVF and Child Labour (2008). She has also edited many books such as Rites of Passage, A Civil Servant Remembers: H.M. Patel (2005); Composite Culture in a Multi-Cultural Society (co-edited with Bipan Chandra), and Towards Freedom 1947: Documents on India's Freedom Struggle (2013). Her fields of interest span the short and long history of the twentieth century, its politics, political economy and social change, and the oral history of independence and partition.

Zeit & Ort

16.11.2023 | 18:00

ZI Lateinamerika-Institut | Raum 201
Rüdesheimer Str. 54-56, 14197 Berlin

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Susanne Klengel