Partitioned Societies

Along with Smita Tewari Jassal I took on an exploration of ‘The Partition Motif in Contemporary Conflicts’. Partition and its repercussions continue to shape societal contours and concerns within the context of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Using a broader perspective, this volume explores the fruitfulness of a comparative analysis of partition. Specifically, the implications of events and processes that began during those crucial years after World War II in three regions—India/Pakistan, East/West Germany, and Israel/Palestine— are traced out. It was during this period that the Cold War emerged and each of these three areas saw the forced separation of groups and societies.

The edited volume based on this project goes beyond these three cases to suggest the wider utility of using concepts and ideas related to partition. Our three cases represent fundamental differences stemming from the diverse logic and rationales that propelled them as solutions, as well as the diverse sets of conditions which rendered them either permanent,ongoing, or reversible. Modern-day partitions arrived at during the process of decolonization have many similarities, but each is also a product of local histories that need foregrounding when making comparative analyzes. In situating the partition motif in the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and in post-cold war Europe, we find that in the former British colonies, the end of imperial rule culminated in the breakup of the colonial state and in the case of Germany, which was in fact occupied by four military powers when it was partitioned, a similar structural logic prevailed. While colonial political partitions, despite individual variables and specific circumstances, display elements of a common structural logic, they typically seem to occur in circumstances of imperial decline or contraction.


Smita Jassal and Eyal Ben-Ari (eds) Echoes of Partition. New Delhi: Sage, 2006. [Google Books]

Smita Tewari Jassal and Eyal Ben-Ari The Partition Motif: Concepts, Comparisons,  Considerations. In Smita Tewari Jassl and Eyal Ben-Ari (eds) Echoes of Partition. New Delhi: Sage, 2006, Pp 15-51. [Book Link] [PDF | Download]