The Refugee Woman: Partition of Bengal, Gender, and the Political

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The Refugee Woman explores the Partition of Bengal in 1947, in its relationship to gender, by innovatively engaging with the cultural imagination of the displaced refugee woman in West Bengal. This work reads the above figure critically in order to trace the shifting meanings of 'woman' in Bengal in the middle decades of the twentieth century.

Paulomi Chakraborty closely examines three significant Partition texts from West Bengal, Ritwik Ghatak's Meghe Dhaka Tara, Jyotirmoyee Devi's Epar Ganga, Opar Ganga, and Sabitri Roy's Swaralipi, situating them against a broad and densely sketched context in conversation with cultural debates and contemporary feminist scholarship, to trace a radical potential in the figuration of the refugee woman. She argues that this figure, animated by the history of the political left and refugee movements and shaped by powerful cultural narratives, can contest and reconstitute the very political imagination of 'woman' that has been shaped by the long history of dominant cultural nationalism.

The Refugee Woman makes an important contribution to the scholarship on gender and the Partition by attending to the less examined case of Bengal. Its detailed account also elucidates the nationalist, communal, and Communist gender politics of a key period in post-Independence Bengal.

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Oxford University Press
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