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The Calcutta Question

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in or organising a public lecture/debate/seminar

Anindya Raychaudhuri - Organiser

The Calcutta Question

In July 1947 the British Empire in India came to an end. Religious riots engulfed large parts of India, as competing demands to divide the country along religious lines took shape. The British established two boundary commissions to decide how and where the borders would be drawn, dividing India from Pakistan, Hindu and Sikh from Muslim.
Calcutta in eastern India, one of the largest cities in the whole of the British Empire, and Britain’s old imperial capital, was a particularly contentious issue. In 1947, Calcutta was claimed by both sides. The precise location of the border would be decided based on “evidence”– the history of the city, contemporary population statistics, formal presentations from various religious and political leaders, as well as eyewitness testimonies of the violence that has engulfed this city over the last few months. Hundreds of thousands of people have already died, and millions more may well in the days and weeks to come.
This immersive event re-visits and questions the legitimacy of a decision that was made by those who had the least to lose. It was made on the basis of incomplete and often inaccurate information. The people most affected by the decision had no say in it, but have to carry on living with its repercussions even today.
We examine the process by which the decision of the boundary commission was made: the arbitrary resolution of an impossible dilemma. We ask you: Was it the right decision? Could any decision be the ‘right’ decision?
This event is led by Dr Anindya Raychaudhuri, who has been researching the 1947 India/Pakistan partition for over five years. He has conducted archival and oral history research – comprised of 160 interviews, selections of which will be presented as part of the event and is the author of the forthcoming monograph: Narrating Partition: Agency, Memory, Representation (Oxford University Press, 2016). More information about Anindya and his research can be found at:
25 Sep 2015

The Calcutta Question

Duration25 Sep 2015 → …
CitySt Andrews
CountryUnited Kingdom

Event: Conference

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