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The 1947 Partition of India resulted in the death of two million people and the displacement of sixteen million more. It continues to haunt popular consciousness and memory, and makes its presence felt in South Asian literature and cinema. Its legacy is palpable not only in discourses about the place of religion in India, but also in the historical interpretation of justice and minority belonging, and in the tension-ridden struggle over the production of secular national culture in the subcontinent.
In Violent Belongings, Kavita Daiya examines South Asian ethnic violence and related mass migration in and after 1947 through its representation in postcolonial India and, more broadly, global South Asian literature and culture. In doing so she makes a nuanced study of the relation between culture and violence in the modern world, exploring contemporary ethnic and gendered violence, and the questions about belonging that trouble nations and nationalism today. By investigating such texts as Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan, Salman Rushdie’s Shalimar the Clown and Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Interpreter of Maladies, alongside the writings of Mahatma Gandhi, Bollywood cinema and diasporic films like Deepa Mehta’s Earth, Daiya illuminates the cultural and political negotiations of postcolonial migration, nationality and violence in transnational public spheres. Working with a multiplicity of texts this valuable new work will be essential reading for students of culture studies, postcolonial studies, sociology, anthropology and gender.
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