From Subjects to Citizens: Society and the Everyday State in India and Pakistan 1947 – 1964

in Academic Service - Archive by on August 12th, 2009

Royal Holloway University of London Department of History and

The University of Leeds School of History

Event Date: 12 August 2009

From Subjects to Citizens: Society and the Everyday State in India and Pakistan 1947 – 1964

Programme / Index:

Introduction & Welcome

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Session I – Citizenship: concepts and problems
(click speaker/title for individual archive pages)

Chair: Yasmin Khan (RHUL)

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Session II – Violence and the everyday state
(click speaker/title for individual archive pages)

Chair: Francis Robinson (RHUL)

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Session III – Development and resettlement
(click speaker/title for individual archive pages)

Chair: Markus Daechel (RHUL)

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Session IV: Gender, childhood and the nation
(click speaker/title for individual archive pages)

Chair: Eleanor Newbigin (Cambridge)

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Concluding Discussion

Project website: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/subjectstocitizens/index.html

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Sarah Ansari – Children, Citizenship and the State in 1950s Pakistan

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speaker_sarahansariSarah Ansari, Royal Holloway University of London
Children, citizenship and the state in 1950s Pakistan

This paper explores the position of children in 1950s Pakistan at the time when the new state was still in the process of working out its citizenship rules and responsibilities. It considers the evolution of Pakistan’s citizenship laws in the early 1950s; individual cases in the mid-1950s when the state intervened in children’s lives thanks to ambiguities concerning their status as Pakistani citizens; and the general uncertainty that existed during this period with respect to the state as ‘protector’ of children’s well-being and rights.

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Uditi Sen – Rehabilitation’s Residue: Recasting Refugee Women as ‘Permanent Liabilities’

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Uditi Sen, University of Cambridge
Rehabilitation’s Residue: Recasting Refugee Women as ‘Permanent Liabilities’

This paper explores the position of refugee women within the regime of refugee rehabilitation in post-colonial India. In order to rehabilitate or restore to normalcy millions of partition refugees, the independent Indian state was forced to articulate its vision of a normative social order. The anxiety caused by the figure of the widowed or single refugee woman, who had no male guardian to protect and provide for her reveals the inherent gender bias in this state led project of social reconstruction. Identified as ‘unattached’ women, they were considered to be ‘unrehabilitable’. The state stepped forward to fill the shoes of the missing patriarch and guarantee perpetual relief to unattached women and their dependants by classifying them as ‘permanent liabilities’. This paper demonstrates how the apparent benevolence of the state towards ‘unattached’ refugee women masked their exclusion from rehabilitation. However, the essentialisation of women as economic dependants did not go unchallenged. It rankled with the prominent women of Nehruvian India; and as ministers, administrators and social workers who enjoyed the patronage of the Congress they advocated training ‘unattached women’ to achieve economic self-sufficiency. Vocational training for refugee women introduced a contradictory ideal of feminine self-sufficiency within a project geared towards replicating patriarchal social mores. But it failed to address the root cause of the marginalisation of refugee women- the stubborn refusal of the Indian nation-state to give unattached women access to the core benefits of rehabilitation – land (or loans to buy land) and the capital to set up trades or businesses. This paper will conclude with suggesting that the inability of independent Indian to imagine refugee women as autonomous entities anticipated its refusal to grant equal citizenship to women in general.

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Ravinder Kaur – Bodies of Partition: Gendered Subjects, ‘Social’ Work and the Limits of Moral Citizenship

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12 August 2009

speaker_RavinderKauer2Ravinder Kaur, University of Copenhagen
Bodies of Partition: Gendered Subjects, ‘Social’ Work and the Limits of Moral Citizenship

This paper is about dislocation – of female bodies dislocated from the realm of the ‘domestic’ to the realm of the public. In India’s contemporary history, the moment of Partition is also the moment when ‘women’ appear in a ruptured social space, outside the protective framework of the family, as objects of sexual violations that could be mutilated, abducted, bought, sold, exchanged, sacrificed and ultimately ‘recovered’ by the state. The dislocated female body, then, in some ways appears as a double sign of moral danger – to her ‘self’ as well as the family, community and the nation – that could only be averted and pre-empted through proper state interventions of recovery. The contentious space of ‘recovery’ is where moral hierarchies of citizenship were created among women who were ‘being recovered’ and who were ‘recovering’ them on behalf of the state. The ‘social worker’, as the women involved in recovery process were officially called, often inhabited an ambivalent position shaped by her identity as a ‘woman’ and a nationalist ‘state agent’. This paper enters this ambivalent space to consider the ways in which the notions of sacrifice, virtue, sexual purity and moral danger shaped belonging and hierarchies, as well as limitations, of moral citizenship in everyday life.

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Tommaso Bobbio – “Countrymen Within the City”: The Construction of Citizenship and the Rhetoric of “Slum Development” in Twentieth-Century Ahmedabad

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Tommaso Bobbio, Royal Holloway University of London

“Countrymen within the city”: the construction of citizenship and the rhetoric of “slum development” in twentieth-century Ahmedabad

Industrial development and demographic growth have been two dominant features in the expansion of Ahmedabad city in the 20th century. Unplanned expansion of industrial neighbourhoods, migrations and urban poverty led thousands of casual and migrant labourers to live in large shantytowns. From the early 1920s slums emerged as an important issue in the city’s administration: since then, state authority’s attempts to deal with slums have assumed two different dimensions. The first one is legal and administrative: slums are considered as illegal settlements which hinder the enactment of planning policies and urban development. The second one involves a moral discourse and looks at the condition of slum dwellers, both in the public and private sphere, in terms of fitting a supposed ideal of urbanity. Dealing with the first dimension, planning authorities have invariably dealt with slums as a housing problem, while the moral side of the issue have called for social actions aimed at educating urban poor to life in the city. At a political level, the two dimensions have often overlapped in the enactment urban policies. Since the time of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel’s leadership to recent slum redevelopment projects, Ahmedabad represent an interesting case study to observe how planning policies, with the aim of integrating urban poor in the texture of the city’s society, have in fact deprived them from access to a full citizenship.

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Ilyas Chattha – Differential Treatment: Kashmiri Refugees’ Experience of Rehabilitation and Punjab-Centre Relations, 1947-1961

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speaker_ilyaschatthaIlyas Chattha, Southampton University
Differential Treatment: Kashmiri Refugees’ Experience of Rehabilitation and Punjab-Centre Relations, 1947-1961

Despite the growing concerns of the ‘new history’ of Partition of India and its aftermath, until recently it has been dominated by the 1947 Punjab experience of migration and rehabilitation. This has been to the detriment of other regions such as Jammu which experienced a similar pattern of disruption, one that was equally profound. The differential treatment of the Kashmiri refugees questions the standard view that within the Punjab resettlement was smooth processes. The paper seeks, firstly to illustrate differential experiences of refugees by contrasting the patterns of resettlement and rights to resources abandoned by the Hindus and Sikhs of the Western Punjab. It then goes on to reveal the Centre-Punjab tensions arising from the province’s priority of the Punjabi refugees’ rehabilitation over the non-Punjabis and the extent to which priorities changed over the period. The tensions which marked the Centre government of Pakistan’s policies regarding the ‘first preference’ of rehabilitation of the 1947 Kashmiri refugees will be at the heart of this paper, examining what the state definition of refugee meant for individuals attempting to become Pakistani citizens.

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Taylor C. Sherman – Retribution, not Rehabilitation: Everyday Violence in the Aftermath of the Police Action in Hyderabad

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speaker_taylorshermanTaylor C. Sherman, Royal Holloway University of London
Retribution, not Rehabilitation: Everyday Violence in the Aftermath of the Police Action in Hyderabad

This paper is concerned with the way violence was interpreted in the aftermath of the Police Action in Hyderabad in September 1948. It looks at the disjuncture between two different levels of thinking about the events which occurred after the Police Action. In the highest echelons of government in Hyderabad, individual acts of aggression in the state were viewed within the larger frame of a subcontinent-wide economy of partition violence in which Hindus and Muslims suffered equally. At the same time, violence in Hyderabad was understood as the necessary renegotiation of local balances of power. I will argue that these interpretive shortcuts tacitly justified hostility towards Muslims in Hyderabad, and excused the government’s failure to prosecute the perpetrators of violence.

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William Gould – Policing, ‘Punishment’ and Quotidian Violence in Late Colonial and Early Independent North India

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speaker_williamgouldWilliam Gould, University of Leeds
Policing, ‘punishment’ and quotidian violence in late colonial and early independent north India

Looking at policing UP, this paper examines the nexus between political power brokers and policemen, and the forms of violence and coercion that underpin this nexus between the 1910s and 1940s. It considers how complex forms of violence, involving social humiliation and the control of property and financial resources affected popular views of the state as they changed over the period of independence and partition. In this sense, the paper aims to contribute to both social science and historical presentations of the ‘everyday state’ by arguing that popular ideas of the state, informed by factors like contacts with the police, are dynamic and transitory, rather than static. The paper goes on to look at how violence associated with policing in places like UP, is part of a complex and changing nexus involving political interests, in both their colonial/authoritarian and democratic guises. This was not a straightforward relationship in which first district officers and then elected MLAs directed police action. Importantly, there was a level of local autonomy in which the sphere of power, the exercise of violence and the immunity to punishment allowed policemen to operate often in quite arbitrary ways. The influence or power of the political masters of policemen and other low level officials was therefore neither straightforward nor uniform. Finally, the paper will examine the extent to which the ‘fiction’ of state neutrality hindered the proscribed processes of discipline and punishment in the regulation of police violence and corruption. It asks how far this fiction changed popular views of the gulf between the rhetoric and realities of ‘public service’.

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Ornit Shani – Gandhi, Citizenship and the Resilience of Indian Nationhood

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speaker_ornitshaniOrnit Shani, University of Haifa
Gandhi, Citizenship and the Resilience of Indian Nationhood

Among the main concerns that preoccupied Indian leaders before and after independence was the question of how to safeguard the country’s national unity, given its multifaceted and deep social divisions. How could the new state turn colonial subjects into citizens? The odds of India succeeding to become a functioning democracy were stacked against it in the aftermath of partition. A deeply divided society such as India is not considered to be a hospitable environment for the establishment and maintenance of democratic government. I argue that the Indian polity incorporated a deeply divided and conflict ridden population by offering four predominant notions of citizenship upon which a sense of membership in the nation, and a share in the various resources of the state could be sought. By continually negotiating and balancing distinct overlapping conceptions for competing membership claims in the nation, India’s diverse social groups could find a viable place in it without entirely relinquishing their various group identities. This essay focuses on one of these citizenship conceptions, by examining Gandhi’s legacy in the shaping of citizenship in India. It advances the proposition that a Gandhian conception of citizenship, which sustained as a practice, as well as a political language, played a significant role, in securing the resilience of Indian unity and its democratic viability.

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Vazira Zamindar – Citizenship and National Boundaries in Postcolonial South Asia

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speaker_vazirazamindarVazira Zamindar, Brown University
Citizenship and National Boundaries in Postcolonial South Asia

This paper grapples with some of the challenges of writing cross-border histories in South Asia, and reflects on the relationship between citizenship, the archive and the postcolonial state.

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