The Trauma and the Triumph: Gender and Partition
in the Eastern Region, vols. 1 & 2
Edited by Jasodhara Bagchi and Subhoranjan Dasgupta
demy octavo pb 284pp ISBN 81-85604-64-9 Rs 350 2003 rpt 2007
demy octavo hb 250pp ISBN 978-81-85604-98-5 Rs 500 Dec 2008
The trauma of the partition in Eastern India is discussed explicitly in a way that has not happened earlier. Drawing upon interviews with women who were uprooted from old East Bengal in 1947, on diaries, memoirs and creative literature, the editors lift the ‘veil of silence’ that has surrounded Partition. The lack of overt public discourse has meant that people outside Bengal have tended to believe that the impact was very much less on the people in the eastern region. In truth, the sufferings, the loss of life and livelihoods and of shelter were very real but of a different nature from the fast-moving horror of the Punjab. It was more like an oozing wound that seemed not to heal than a one-time severance of a limb.
Weaving together the voices of many women and incisive analysis, the book provides an invaluable discussion on displacement, rape, loss and why women pay the price.
Continuing the discussion on Partition in the Eastern Region in volume 2, the editors present another portrait through literature, interviews, surveys and documents. Much of the material has been translated for the first time from Bengali. What is particularly interesting is that contributions, whether in fiction, interviews, or memoirs, are from both sides of the border so that the full force of what Partition wrought is revealed.
Jasodhara Bagchi retired as Chairperson of the West Bengal Commission for Women. Subhoranjan Dasgupta is Professor, Human Sciences, Institute of Development Studies Kolkata.
‘Family histories of Partition make a strong statement about social transformation. The trauma of families during Partition has been extensively documented but the book under review takes a fresh look at this issue from a gendered point of view. Drawing upon interviews with women uprooted from old East Bengal, diaries, memoirs and creative literature, the editors Jasodhara Bagchi and Subhoranjan Dasgupta “lift the veil of silence” that has surrounded the Bengal Partition of 1947.
Weaving together the voices of many women with compassion and incisive analysis, this book brings to the fore the tragedy and triumph of the displaced women of Bengal. It is a rare chronicle of women’s suffering.’
Kanchi Dasgupta: The Sunday Statesman Magazine, 22 August 2004
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