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





Royal Holloway University of London Department of History
and The University of Leeds School of History

Event Date: 9 and 10 September 2010 
Royal Asiatic Society 14 Stephenson Way, London NW1


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

This research, a three-year collaboration between the History departments at Royal Holloway and the University of Leeds, explores the shift from colonial rule to independence in three sites on the subcontinent – Uttar Pradesh (formerly theUnited Provinces), Sindh, and the Princely State of Hyderabad (Deccan) – withthe aim of unravelling the explicit meanings and relevance of ‘independence’ forthe new citizens of India and Pakistan in the two decades immediately following 1947.

The year 1947 has traditionally been viewed as a fundamental watershed, yet little work has hitherto looked at the development of popular, public cultures surrounding the state in South Asia at this time, and almost none has been comparative. There were powerful continuities as well as short-term and unanticipated developments operating at this time, which together set the terms for the foundation of both major states in their first generation after independence.

While the histories of India and Pakistan have come to be conceived separately and assumed to develop along divergent paths, they in fact both developed out of much the same set of historical experiences. In addition, the focus on the ‘high’ levels of politics and government in much historical writing on both countries both has arguably distracted attention away from the functioning of the state at the level of ‘everyday’ life – a level experienced by ordinary as well as extraordinary people.

This project thus sets out to correct these imbalances by contributing a (timely) empirical analysis of political developments in a part of the world in relation to which considerable debate is currently taking place both on the nature of the state in general, and on that of so called ‘failed states’ in particular.


Thursday 9 September

Introduction to the Project – Ansari, Gould, Sherman – click to play .
Representing the State: Ideas and Icons
  • Ali Usman Qasmi,
    Imagining Pakistan: The Debates About Islam, Identity and Citizenship (AUDIO HERE)
  • Paul McGarr,
    “The Viceroys are disappearing from the roundabouts in Delhi”: Art, Architecture and Imperial Iconoclasm in Post-colonial India (AUDIO HERE)
  • Kamran Asdar Ali,
    Progressives and “Perverts”: Partition Stories and Pakistan’s Future (AUDIO HERE)
  • questions / discussion .
Performing the State: Propaganda, Police and Political Influence
  • William Gould
    ‘Eating the king’s revenue’ and Bestowing the Bounty of the State: The Neta – Babu Nexus in Uttar Pradesh, 1945-1951 (AUDIO HERE)
  • Sarah Ansari,
    The Curious Case of Sir Gilbert Grace: Policing Karachi, 1947-1958 (AUDIO HERE)
  • Alasdair Pinkerton,
    ‘Tuning In’: Radio Listening and ‘Aerial Sovereignty’ on the India-Pakistan Border (1950-1970) (AUDIO HERE)
  • questions / discussion .
Friday 10 September 2010
Citizenship & Minorities (I)
  • Lata Parvani,
    Dilemma, Dissonance and Disorder: The Sindhi Hindu Exodus from Pakistan, 1947-48  (audio not available)
  • Uditi Sen,
    The Nation and its Exclusions: The Repatriation of European Refugees from Independent India, 1947-49 (AUDIO HERE)
  • Nicolas Jaoul,
    Harijan Citizens in Kanpur (AUDIO HERE)
  • questions / discussion .

Citizenship & Minorities (II)

  • Christophe Jaffrelot,
    The End of an Era: the Banal Marginalization of Muslims in Bhopal after 1947 (AUDIO HERE)
  • Taylor Sherman,
    From ‘the language of the bazaar’ to a ‘minority language’: Urdu and the Idea of the Minority in Postcolonial Hyderabad, 1948-56 (AUDIO HERE)
  • Tahir Kamran,
    The Christian Minority in the Pakistani Punjab (AUDIO HERE)
  • questions / discussion .

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