ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Partition Violence and Women Refugeehood at the Bengal Border: A Comparative Analysis


Ghosh Sabnam - Fairfield University, English, Fairfield, United States


21- Panel Title: Violence against women in South Asian countries


 This essay will comparatively analyze a selection of short stories of the Bengal and Punjab Partition to study the differing natures of gendered physical and epistemic violence in both borders and their continued presence of these violence aesthetics in current women’s border crossings across the Bengal borders. The Bengal Partition stories will be drawn from Bashabi Fraser’s translated volume of Bengal Partition Short Stories, while the Punjab partition short stories will be by Saadat Hasan Manto, Khushwant Singh and Tripti and Jasbir Jain’s volume of Punjab Partition short stories Bridge Across The Rivers. Through this comparative analysis, I want to question the epistemological differences between the violence perpetuated on both border fronts and establish connections between gendered violence, womanhood, migration and borders. This analysis is important because it reflects the extreme violence of the Punjab Partition to the comparatively slow and longe duree nature of violence in the Bengal Partition as is reflected in the continued refugee crisis at the Bengal border in the current day. The paper will draw from the studies of refugee women at the Bengal borders from scholars like Rimple Mehta and Malini Sur. Theoretically, this analysis sheds light on the ethics of our practice of alterity when faced with situations of external power and violence and their capacity to pejoratively displace familiarity and community with fear and strangeness.