Who is a Refugee? Understanding the Figure of the Refugee against the Backdrop of the Bengal Partition (1947-1970)

Sumallya Mukhopadhyay
Rupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities
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The paper intends to study the figure of the refugee in post-Partition West Bengal by critically examining the oral history narratives of individuals who migrated from East Pakistan in the wake of the 1947 Partition. It underscores the value and relevance of narrativity in the representation of factual history, the motivation and manifestation of which make history subjective, interpretive and contingent on the refugee's narrative. The narrative act presents the refugees' transition from, what may be called, figurative to socio-material subjects who interrupt and derange the nationalising exercise of the nation-state. The multivalent understanding of refugees makes the nation-state suffer from an anxiety of incompleteness (Appadurai 2006). The paper extends the idea of incompleteness by showing that however much the nation-state attempts to frame a particular brand of nationalism, variants of ethnocultural nationalism do exist, demonstrating the diverse subjectivities embodied by the refugees/narrators. Such ethnocultural nationalism can be read as alternative forms of self-assertion deeply etched in the social memory of the refugees. www.academia.edu/49259444/Who_is_a_Refugee_Understanding_the_Figure_of_the_Refugee_against_the_Backdrop_of_the_Bengal_Partition_1947_1970_