Representing subjugation: Or, the figure of the woman in Partition history

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This paper interrogates the reparative possibilities of representing subjugated voices in historical narratives. It examines, first, the onto-epistemic conditions under which this representation becomes possible. Further, it demonstrates that the possibility of representation is contingent upon the reproduction of the subjugated subject as a signifier of onto-epistemic difference. This form of representation fails to repair the harm underlying subjugation. The paper concludes by demonstrating the need for telling more ‘surprising’ stories that unravel material and symbolic attachments to the given onto-epistemic order. The argument proceeds through an engagement with the figure of the woman as she circulates in the histories of the 1947 Partition of India and Pakistan. In particular, it engages the figure of the martyred woman and the abducted woman as they emerge in testimony and film, respectively.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Identities
Early online date9 Sep 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Sep 2020


  • representation
  • trauma
  • Partition
  • women
  • reparation
  • historical narratives


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