Read Borders and Boundaries: How Women Experienced the Partition of India by Ritu Menon Kamla Bhasin Online

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As an event of shattering consequence, the Partition of India remains significant today. While Partition sounds smooth on paper, the reality was horrific. More than eight million people migrated and one million died in the process. The forced migration, violence between Hindus and Muslims, and mass widowhood were unprecedented and well-documented. What was less obvious butAs an event of shattering consequence, the Partition of India remains significant today. While Partition sounds smooth on paper, the reality was horrific. More than eight million people migrated and one million died in the process. The forced migration, violence between Hindus and Muslims, and mass widowhood were unprecedented and well-documented. What was less obvious but equally real was that millions of people had to realign their identities, uncertain about who they thought they were. The rending of the social and emotional fabric that took place in 1947 is still far from mended.While there are plenty of official accounts of Partition, there are few social histories and no feminist histories. Borders and Boundaries changes that, providing first-hand accounts and memoirs, juxtaposed alongside official government accounts. The authors make women not only visible but central. They explore what country, nation, and religious identity meant for women, and they address the question of the nation-state and the gendering of citizenship. In the largest ever peace-time mass migration of people, violence against women became the norm. Thousands of women committed suicide or were done to death by their own kinsmen. Nearly 100,000 women were "abducted" during the migration. A young woman might have been separated from her family when a convoy was ambushed, abducted by people of another religion, forced to convert, and forced into marriage or cohabitation. After bearing a child, she would be offered the opportunity to return only if she left her child behind and if she could face shame in her natal community. These stories do not paint their subjects as victims. Theirs are the stories of battles over gender, the body, sexuality, and nationalism-stories of women fighting for identity....

Title : Borders and Boundaries: How Women Experienced the Partition of India
Author :
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ISBN : 9780813525525
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Borders and Boundaries: How Women Experienced the Partition of India Reviews

  • Nav Sohi
    2019-01-20 23:30

    A haunting glimpse at to what women endured during the 1947 partition. I read this book, because I wanted to learn more about the topic. After reading this book, I learned why my grandmother was never able to speak about her experiences during the partition.

  • Nikhil
    2018-12-27 04:17

    4.5/5. Using interviews with Paritition survivors, social workers, and family members, Ritu Menon constructs a feminist history of Partition. The book is structured into chapters around specific themes (e.g. acceptable violence against women, experiences of widows, etc.); each chapter begins with interviews and concludes with an analysis that creates a feminist reading of Partition. By doing so, Menon interrogates the relationship betwen women and the nascent states of South Asia in 1947, the relationship between women and their communities, and the relationship between women and their families. Community (religious and ethnic), family, and national identity all come into conflict for women (much less so for men), and the manner in which women and the state negotiate these conflicts provide insight into the way patriarchal structures were reified by the new states and the roles women played (and continue to play) as boundary markers of community and nation. The discussions around acceptable violence against women (family members and communities killing women rather than allowing them to be "dishonored") and the state's role in "recovering" women from the neighboring state are particularly illuminating. Familial and national memory in South Asia celebrate the women who "sacrificed" and "killed themselves" to preserve the community honor during Partition. Male family members remain silent about any possible reservations women may have had, instead presenting the history as a single narrative of women choosing death over dishonor. The state does not view these killings as murder. The historical memory is very similar to, for instance, historical memory about Rani Padmini, etc. The interviews reveal a standard feminist criticism of these events: the women faced limited choices, if any, and the killings are societally acceptable femicide. While few statistics remain, I would be interested in decomposing Partition violence to understand what fraction of deaths were within-community.The state's role in women's "recovery" similarly suborns the desires of women to the perverse logic of community honor. Many women who were abducted during Partition made new lives for themselves, lives that may have been more freeing than the confining lives they would have lived in their own communities, but were denied the right to live where they chose, being forcibly repatriated. Of note is that the women social workers who were participating in these efforts all came to understand that the state was not acting in the interests of these women, all voicing concerns and protests to superiors. The state's action in these cases, abrogated the civil rights of women as citizens in favor of defining women as religious subjects, something that the lawmakers at the time explicitly understood (see the debates in the Lok Sabha), and something that continues to this day. In so doing, the state embodies the fraternal brotherhood of male citizens maintaining control over women's bodies and reproduction.One of the standout features of the book are the extensive interviews reproduced in full. The women they interview have amazing stories to tell. All the interviewees have theories of why Partition happened that they explain at length. A remarkable consistency in the interviews is the anger and blame these women direct towards Hindu orthodoxy and its role in poisoning relations between people. The book is worth reading for the final interview with Taran alone, where she voices the need to make petrol bombs at age 55 because the state has abrogated its responsibility in protecting her rights as a citizen and she will be damned if she doesn't kill her attackers this time around. I wish there had been a bit more in the book about survey design -- how did they find the women to interview? what are these womens demographic characteristics? are the women they interview overrepresenting certain classes/groups, are they basing their analysis on a single interview, or multiple interviews with similar themes?, etc. Regardless, the book is essential reading.

  • Roberta Villalon
    2019-01-08 00:35

    it's one of the best books i've ever read - beyond the disciplinary boundaries of sociology...this book changed my life, how i thought of my life until then, and what i decided to do with it after...read it!

  • Meihan Liu
    2019-01-13 04:23

    Two chapters as course assignment and I am done with the book. That must be how Kennan felt when as a Russia and Germany specialist he was reassigned to deal with East Asian affairs. I don't understand what the book is talking about. I cannot comprehend the subject.

  • Reena
    2019-01-04 06:07

    Probably one of the more difficult books I've read, and easily the book that took me the longest to get through. The main reasons being: it is so packed with facts & figures of Partition history that I did not want to miss a beat although I probably have to go back to it a few times even now; it is a disturbing subject given what happened to women as a result of Partition, both at the hands of the "other" but perhaps more tragically at the hands of their own families and country; and finally because the subject makes for dry reading with heavy tracts of feminist theory thrown in, much of which I agree with but makes for the feeling of being lectured. This is also perhaps one of the most important books written about the 1947 Partition of India and its aftermath. If the subject of India's Partition is of interest then this is a must read. I don't think I will ever stop being amazed at how well we (at least in India) have kept under wraps what was done unto women during Partition -- not just by the "other side" but by those who were their own, and how that gruesome tragedy multiplied even after Partition when women continued to be treated like objects who had no say, no agency whatsoever in deciding their own destinies, yet continued to carry the entire burden of a ridiculously fragile 'honor' placed squarely on their shoulders! Read, be amazed - and fume!

  • Shaun
    2019-01-18 02:26

    This is a real sober read, but very informative. I really enjoyed the information I gained from it.

  • Haley
    2019-01-14 23:32

    another gem from Prof. Goswami

  • Elsie
    2019-01-22 07:27

    I think I would have really loved this book if they'd given me enough time to finish it.