The Long Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia: Refugees, Boundaries, Histories

In This Review

The Long Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia: Refugees, Boundaries, Histories

By Vazira Fazila-Yacoobali Zamindar
Columbia University Press, 2007
304 pp. $50.00
Purchase

Enough time has passed that it should be possible to produce objective studies of the formation of India and Pakistan. Zamindar makes the important point that partition meant that India and Pakistan were not like other ex-colonial new states in that their institutions and practices were not a continuation of their colonial arrangements but rather the result of complicated new arrangements. Partition also created a flow of refugees who were not really at home in either of the two new states. Both new governments had problems deciding what to do with their minority populations: the 1941 census said that New Delhi had a minority Muslim population of 33 percent and Karachi a minority Hindu population of 48 percent. Both governments and both peoples had tangled memories and confusing histories to serve as the bases of their new national identities. Zamindar puts together a history that helps clarify the story of partition and makes clear that there were no easy solutions to state building in either country.