‘A certain terror’: corporeality and religion in narratives of the 1947 India/Pakistan partition

This article will take as its case study the 1947 India/Pakistan partition, and is based on a large oral history project, which took place over the last five years. In this article, I focus on selected excerpts from some of my interviews, examining the ways in which people describe religious belief, practice, prejudice and violence as corporeal experiences, with markers of religiosity often inscribed on the body. I examine how the corporeality of religious violence was not an aberration from everyday religious practices, but in effect an extension of religion as an embodied entity. In turn, I will examine how these embodied practices are reflected in the actual oral history interview itself. I will make a case for the importance of studying oral history as an embodied methodology, and the need to concentrate not just on the verbal interactions between interviewee and interviewer, but also on the meeting of the two bodies and the communication that occurs, or fails to occur between these two bodies.

Anindya Raychaudhuri
Oral History Forum d'historie Oral