Coming Apart: Partitions, People, and Power
From the population exchange that forged modern Greece and Turkey to the post-WWII division of South Asia and Palestine to the more recent dissolution of Yugoslavia, the 20th century was a time of partition and the compulsory movement of peoples. Often narrated as the inevitable result of different national and ethnic groups inhabiting the same territory—the outcome of “age old” prejudices and mutual hatred—partitions are in fact a thoroughly modern phenomenon. Why, when peoples who have lived alongside one another for centuries, does such an arrangement become no longer tenable? What forms of identity and statecraft make living together impossible? And why—despite so much evidence to the contrary—do many still conceive of the partition of peoples into ethnically homogeneous territories as both natural and inevitable?
In this course, we will consider these questions and case studies by examining historical, literary, and theoretical reflections from a diverse group of scholars and writers, including Mary Kaldor, Joe Cleary, Amrita Pritam, Yasmine Khan, Laura Robson, Saadat Hasan Manto, and Bruce Clark. To what extent is this phenomena driven by nationalist sentiment? What is the relationship between such sentiment and overarching political and economic conditions? To what extent is the history of imperialism bound up with that of partition? How does the impulse to create ethnically homogenous populations intersect with the development of the modern state? And in what ways does the “problem” of living together still haunt our 21st century politics?
Course ScheduleWednesday, 6:30-9:30pm ET
January 27 — February 17, 2021