SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Forging Citizens from Refugees: Rehabilitation, Nation-Building and Post-colonial Governmentalities

Uditi Sen (University of Nottingham

Date: 19 February 2019Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 19 February 2019Time: 7:00 PM


Type of Event: Seminar

In the aftermath of partition, millions of refugees from eastern Pakistan crossed over the newly minted political borders of divided Bengal to seek refuge in India. They found themselves in a liminal zone of belonging, where they claimed to be both citizens of India and refugees, while an apathetic state sought to deny them both. This talk will bring to light the gradual emergence and crystallisation of an underlying governmentality of rehabilitation that informed official policies towards Bengali refugees. I will demonstrate how and why vulnerable refugees were asked to live up to a top-down ideal of hyper-masculine agents of national development, in order to access rehabilitation. Not all refugees were willing or able to live up to this ideal. Drawing upon my book, Citizen Refugee: Forging the Indian Nation after Partition, this talk illustrates how class, caste and gender moulded refugee agency and radically fractured refugee experiences of rehabilitation. It also traces hitherto unexplored legacies of partition in patterns of governance, discourses of citizenship and in popular politics in India.

Organiser: Eleanor Newbigin

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