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Memories in the Service of the Hindu Nation

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Memories in the Service of the Hindu Nation: The Afterlife of the Partition of India

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Speaker: Dr Pranav Kohli, Department of Sociology, Maynooth University

Memories in the Service of the Hindu Nation: The Afterlife of the Partition of India

This lecture studies the emergence and popularity of Hindu nationalism in India through an ethnographic account of the 1947 Partition of India. It responds to an urgent, provocative but nevertheless necessary question: “What does it mean to remember the Partition in the time of fascism?”

The lecture analyses how the hegemony of Hindu nationalism has structured the narratives of Hindu Partition survivors and recruited them in service of a putative Hindu nation. It examines how survivors use the ideology of Hindu nationalism to rationalise the Partition’s death and suffering. In doing so, it makes important connections between religious nationalism, modernity and the global rise of authoritarianism with the explicit objective of contributing to anti-fascist thinking.

This lecture is based on the presenter’s doctoral research which consisted of fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork (participant observation, unstructured life-history interviews and focus group discussions) with the last generation of Indian Partition survivors in Delhi.

Bio: Pranav holds a PhD in Anthropology from Maynooth University (2021) and an MPhil in Race, Ethnicity and Conflict from Trinity College Dublin. Pranav’s doctoral research studied the emergence and popularity of Hindu nationalism in India through an ethnographic account of the 1947 Partition of India. Entitled, ‘Memory, Theodicy and Victimhood: The Afterlife of the Partition of India’, Pranav’s dissertation examined how survivors use the ideology of Hindu nationalism to rationalise the Partition’s death and suffering.

Pranav is currently working on Invisible Monsters: The Pandemic Imaginary of Infectious Pathogens and Infectious Bodies; an international collaborative research project funded by a Social Science Research Council Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant.

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Organiser UCD APReN: UCD Asia Pacific Research Network

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