Beyond the Wounded Archive: Partition’s Hauntings and Bombay Cinema

Sarah Waheed, Davidson College, United States


This paper explores gendered violence of India’s Partition in by examining Bombay cinema’s first ghost story in 1949. The archive of India’s independence and Partition into two new states is wounded by the lack of testimony about the atrocities of 1947. Retrieving historical subjectivity means having to read texts that are not included within an official archive. I argue that research about Partition must move beyond a fixation on state-centric, English-language colonial and national archives, as well as literary narratives by elites that are often used to “fill in the gaps”. If one is to retrieve some sense of collective recognition of sexual violence, the task before the historian is to grapple with the fragments left behind at the level of popular cultural imagination.

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