ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

44 – New archival traces of the Second World War in the India-Myanmar-Bangladesh borderland

The panel calls for research to revisit the histories and legacies of the Second World War and its contemporary relevance in the India-Myanmar-Bangladesh borderlands. The region was a site of many battles, including the disastrous twin battles of Imphal and Kohima between 8 March and 18 July 1944, which ended Japanese imperial ambitions in South Asia.

Convenors

Debanjali Biswas - King's College London, School of Global Affairs, London, United Kingdom
Deepak Naorem - University of Delhi, Daulat Ram College, New Delhi, India

Long Abstract

The panel calls for research to revisit the histories and legacies of the Second World War and its contemporary relevance in the India-Myanmar-Bangladesh borderlands. The region was a site of many battles, including the disastrous twin battles of Imphal and Kohima between 8 March and 18 July 1944, which ended Japanese imperial ambitions in South Asia. This also left in its wake ‘postcolonial evolution of northeastern India and northwestern Burma’ (Guyot-Réchard, 2018) and pushed indigenous modernities in new directions. While most existing narratives and histories of the war represent the perspectives of former imperial powers and postcolonial states in the region, some recently unearthed archival traces of war compensation petitions, private papers of officers who ran the wartime administration, visual and sound archives, oral testimonies of the displaced and the survivors, and other material, document, ephemera – are making way for multivocal, overlooked histories. This panel aims to bring together encounters of the local population, and the material, sociological and political, cross or tran-regional exigencies of the war. This is a bid to attempt examination of the long-term legacies of the Second World War in the region, whether in shaping memoryscapes, or the socio-political movements in the borderlands, including ‘non-events’ (Stoler 2010) indicative of forgotten and connected histories.