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Image by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič

Between state narratives and people’s memories of 1971 - Anam Zakaria


'While Pakistan saw 1971 through the sense of loss, similar to how India saw 1947, for Bangladesh, 1971 marked bloodshed, but also the birth of a new nation, a triumph, a victory.'

(Anam Zakaria, 1971- A People's History from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India)

In her efforts to explore the intergenerational memory of the 1947 Partition between India and Pakistan was birthed the idea of working on the 1971 Partition, particularly given the relative sense of disconnectedness and unfamiliarity with Bangladesh and the 1971 war. Little was known about the people with whom Pakistan had shared twenty four years of history and how differentially Pakistan remembered the 1971 war vis a vis Bangladesh. It thus began as a work to understand her own history and unravel those nuances, which now stands as a seminal text in reading the 1971 Partition. Oral histories complemented with textbook analyses, visits to schools and travels to museums and sites memorialising 1971 juxtaposed with state narratives, this study is critical in that it brings out the implications of the 1971 Partition on everyday lives lived through that tumultuous period of extreme violence, and how that has been remembered and forgotten by the 'three children of Partition'—India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Emerging from her experience of research and writing this text, the talk will focus on the interaction between people’s memories and state narratives, particularly exploring the ways in which people’s narratives reinforce, resist and challenge state narratives.

Anam Zakaria is the author of 1971: A People's History from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India (2019), Between the Great Divide: A Journey into Pakistan-Administered Kashmir (2018) and The Footprints of Partition: Narratives of Four Generations of Pakistanis and Indians (2015), which won her the 2017 KLF-German Peace Prize. She works as a development professional and cultural facilitator and writes frequently on issues of conflict and peace. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Al Jazeera, Dawn, and


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