Basmah Arshad

Document Type

Honors Thesis


In August 1947, British India became two independent states: India and Pakistan. Historians refer to this event as “the Partition,” and acknowledge that it became an incredibly violent event in which upwards of two million people – men, women, and children – lost their lives due to decisions made by statesmen. The Partition has been described in accounts and statements of politicians or other public figures. This project takes that existing historical literature and builds upon it using oral histories collected by the 1947 Partition Archive organization and the Partition Museum located in Amritsar, India. As of November 2019, there are around ninety interviews available by both sources combined. The subjects of these oral histories, whose memories may be tempered and molded by the passage of time, offer a revealing perspective that provides a deeper understanding of how the trauma of the Partition affected internal and external developments of India and Pakistan, from society and culture to national identity and foreign policy during the early stages of the Cold War. These oral histories shed light on the enduring legacy of the Partition and how the many complexities, agonies, and human costs of this event were never resolved or even acknowledged.

Publication Date






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