Memoryscapes: Historiographies & Methodologies around the 1947 Partition – CALL FOR PAPERS

Date / time: 12 April, 12:00 am

Memoryscapes: Historiographies & Methodologies around the 1947 Partition - CALL FOR PAPERS


Call for Papers, deadline – 12 April

Memoryscapes: historiographies & methodologies around the 1947 Partition
Department of English and Humanities, BRAC University: 17-18 February 2025
Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS): 22-23 February 2025

The Partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 is remembered as one of the foundational tragedies in South Asia’s collective history. Studies of Partition are many, and so are their approaches to studying Partition. It is only in recent years that scholarly inquiries into the Partition have shifted away from colonial preoccupation and statist “grand narratives” of the formation of the postcolonial states of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Instead, scholars have questioned such “foundational” narratives to tell different kinds of (hi)stories of Partition, which focus on human(e) experience. Many scholars as well as community historians have mobilised oral history as a way to excavate the individual histories that, when taken in aggregate, can also reveal the broader history of the human experience of Partition. Among scholars concerned with human experience, some focus on popular perceptions and collective memories, while others focus on psychological experiences of trauma and the question of affect. This has allowed a more textured, and sometimes contradictory, understanding of Partition as an aspect of history.

Partition Studies is also now marked by a substantial body of research exploring fictional representations: the legacy of Partition in visual, written and filmic texts, in various languages. Following this “cultural turn”, and building on this established commitment to people’s experiences that lie at the centre of the Partition story, Partition Studies has increasingly forged links with Memory Studies. This has allowed for the emergence of scholarly works that focus on cultural memory as a collective and individual phenomenon that changes over time, and under changing circumstances. Memory in this body of scholarship thus takes diverse forms: it is collective for some, and personal/individual for others; while some feel memories are etched in textual representations. In attending to memory in its multiple, disjunctive iterations, this scholarship lays bare the complexity, or perhaps implausibility, of a singular understanding of memory, or an understanding of a singular memory, as a ‘window’ into Partition.

This diversity in approaches to studying the 1947 Partition invites careful consideration of method and how different methodological approaches towards Partition create their object of study. We invite proposals for papers to be presented at a conference that will pivot around questions of methodology and historiography related to Partition. Please note that we will not consider papers that deal with textual representations unless they speak to the question of methodology and historiography. Here, we seek to address, for instance, these issues:

  • What are the pitfalls of the existing methods in Partition Studies? Can we think of new methods? How do the methodologies in question reconfigure our objects of study? How do biases and dispositions – for instance, subjective bias, confirmation bias etc. – feed into methods?
  • How can memories concerning Partition be best understood? Which methodologies are most effective for addressing the formation and reproduction of memory?
  • Oral history is probably the foundational methodology utilised in studies of Partition; another substantial body of research, however, engages with representations: fictional articulations of Partition experience and its legacy through texts. How can we bring the two strands – and relatedly, various disciplines like anthropology, sociology, history, literary/cultural studies – into conversation?
  • What implications do methodologies have for the pedagogy of Partition Studies? How is Partition to be taught in the contemporary classroom? What can Partition teach a young student and why must we study it? How do we attend to the politics of trauma, and political renderings of that trauma?
  • Why are quantitative methods so less-frequently leveraged in studying Partition? How, and how far, can quantitative techniques be meaningfully integrated into the existing arsenal of methodologies in the Humanities? What may quantitative techniques – and by extension, possible synergies between quantitative and qualitative techniques – endow Partition Studies with?
  • How are the affordances of the digital – for instance, digital archiving, digital narration, distant reading etc. – reconfiguring historiographies concerning Partition?

Please email a ~250-word abstract of your unpublished work and a ~150-word bio-note (in a single file) by 12 April 2024 to the conveners: Dr. Avishek Ray (, Dr. Debjani Sengupta (, Dr. Anne Murphy ( and Dr. Sarah Ansari (, to be considered for any of the two workshops to be held at BRAC University during 17-18 February 2025 and at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) during 22-23 February 2025. Please mention your preferred venue in the body of the email and use [Partition workshop_Your name_Preferred venue: BRAC/LUMS] in the subject line. Select papers from the workshops will be considered for publication in high impact journals in the fields of South Asian Studies, postcolonialism etc. Limited bursaries for domestic travel may be available, subject to securing fundings.

These workshops are planned as follow-ups to a conference on the same theme that is being planned for November 2024 in India. The details/CFP will be shared shortly. Prospective participants from India may apply for the same (instead of these workshops). Together, these three events emerge from a 2-year research project entitled ‘Canonization of Partition Literature and the Politics of Memorialization in South Asia’ (2023-2025) that is supported by the Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC), Ministry of Education, and being led conveners cited above.