Viewing posts tagged demons of the punjab

Empires and Metaphors

As noted last time, through its strategy - deliberate or not - of eloquent silence, 'Demons of the Punjab' almost says that Partition represents the British in India killing millions.  It establishes that the British are the ones drawing lines and then running away.  Later, the Thijarians say “Millions will die.” The episode aligns the parts of a statement... but never quite joins them up.

In a way this is fair enough, since the statement it never quite makes is both true and an oversimplification. Like many simple truths, it is one important part of a complex reality.   It is true that the British authorities didn’t mean to cause the horrors of Partition, didn’t themselves take part in the atrocities, and didn’t foresee them. It is true that most of the violence was committed by Indians attacking other Indians.  It is true that there has been - both before and after Partition - plenty of violence between Hindus, Muslims, and the other ethnicities in India.  It is true that intractable political arguments and gameplay between the Indian parties - mainly Congress and the Muslim League - helped stymie British attempts to avoid Partition.  It is true that the Muslims had real ...

Demons and Silences

The historian Yasmin Khan, who wrote a book about the Partition of India that Vinay Patel, the writer of ‘Demons of the Punjab’, has tweeted about having read as research, wrote that the Partition is “a history layered with absence and silences”.

Yes, her name is Yasmin Khan.   

What does that mean?  Does it mean anything?  We must simply add this to the list of questions ‘Demons of the Punjab’ raises, or almost raises, and then remains silent about. 

‘Demons of the Punjab’ is an episode haunted by silences.  Pregnant, eloquent silences. I don’t know if this is deliberate, in the sense of being a conscious strategy on the part of the people who made it.  Whether this matters is itself a question to consider.

The first pregnant, eloquent silence comes very near the start, when the elderly Umbreen remarks that she was “the first Muslim woman to work in a textile mill in South Yorkshire”.  This follows her remark, itself news to Yaz, that she was the first woman married in Pakistan. Umbreen has been very silent for a long time.

Contrary to myth and apologia, India before the British came was a wealthy, thriving country.  According ...

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