To Draw the Line: Partitions, Dissonance, Art - A Case for South Asia

This Introduction examines the contested histories of Partitions in South Asia with an emphasis on memory and the line, the map and the museum. The map is read variously as a decolonial device through the works of contemporary artists such as Gulammohamed Sheikh's ongoing project ‘Mappa Mundi’, which uses psychogeography as a cosmopolitan palimpsest for exploring the rich layered histories of artistic production, mysticism and magic realism. The line we read in relation to Radcliffe’s rather hasty decision to carve up India in 1947. In Mountbatten's words, the British really ‘fucked up’. The line had devastating consequences for the displacement of millions, leading to millions of deaths and lasting trauma. The legacies of such trauma are only just beginning to be recognised. In many ways artists such as Somnath Hore and Shilpa Gupta have led the way. Officially, the Partition Museum opened in Amritsar in Autumn 2016. Still very much a site of construction it aims to provide a much needed parallel to Holocaust memorials and the Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg. The Introduction also proposes the importance of iconopraxis, the criticality of the subaltern and the power of fabulation as ways of negotiating the genealogies of Partition.

Correia, Alice
Eaton, Natasha
Third Text : Partitions Special Issue