70 Years of Partition: Survivors, Memories, and their Afterlives

Bowes Art & Architecture Library
August 15 - November 15, 2017

When the clock struck midnight on August 15, 1947 the nation state of Pakistan became a reality and India’s independence from colonial rule was official.  What should been a celebratory moment was instead marred by the complete breakdown of law and order where 14 million people suddenly found themselves on the wrong sides of the borders and in the largest migration of modern history up to 2 million people lost their lives in the ensuing violence. 

The works on display draw attention to the uneasy relationship between Independence, nationalism, and the violence of Partition.  For some it was a moment for festivities; for others it meant the end of a shared cultural world that had developed over centuries, and for others it marked their last days alive.  The partition of the subcontinent was not a one-time event that happened and was over. It lives on in the personal, religious and political divides of contemporary India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. 

The exhibition features reproductions of photographs taken by renowned photographer Margaret Bourke-White from Life magazine in the late 1940s, artists’ books, and examples of how contemporary artists from India and Pakistan continue to ponder Partition and its aftermath.

70 Years of Partition was curated by D. Vanessa Kam, Head Librarian of the Bowes Art & Architecture Library, and C. Ryan Perkins, South Asian Studies Librarian at Green Library.