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How The Male And Female Gaze Have Shaped Partition Literature

Deya Bhattacharya
The Curious Reader
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For a long time now, literature has been able to preserve the collective memory of the epoch-defining historical events, in a way that is both a release for the survivors, as well as providing for a nuanced space for the interpretation of long-term grief. The Partition of India is one such cataclysmic event that has occupied a very significant place in South Asian literature, and as Pakistani historian, Ayesha Jalal describes it, “[a] defining moment that is neither beginning nor end, partition continues to influence how the peoples and states of postcolonial South Asia envisage their past, present and future.” Partition literature has many literary forms, including novels, poetry, short stories and non-fiction works. However, the sub-genre in its most mainstream version, mostly navigated by male writers, has been singularly focused on the community, its intertwining relationship with religion and the scale of gendered violence in order to integrate power and authority over people and territories. On the other hand, women writers write more about the realities of the Partition, and delve into the nature and structure of gender relationships against the backdrop of this historical catastrophe. www.thecuriousreader.in/features/partition-literature-female-gaze/