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Memories of Partition Relived At Emory Event

June 2004
Memories of Partition Relived At Emory Event

If only all courses could end like this: Many senses were stimulated at a special event entitled "The Partition of the Indian Subcontinent," which took place in Emory University's White Hall on the evening of Friday, April 30.

The event was the culmination of a multidisciplinary course on the Literature of the Indian Partition, taught by Deepika Bahri, who is Associate Professor in Emory's Department of English. As part of the course, students interviewed members of Atlanta's South Asian community about their experiences of the 1947 partition. Several of those oral history project participants were present on Friday night.

Following a sumptuous subcontinental-style dinner, the audience attended a screening of Satti Khanna and Peter Chappell's gripping film "Division of Hearts," which shows ordinary people telling of their experiences during the partition.

After a short speech by Dr. Bahri, a student representative read a vote of thanks honoring the participants from the South Asian community who had graciously agreed to share their memories with Emory students.

Feminist therapist Anneliese Singh had prepared a talk on intergenerational trauma in the South Asian community, which was read by Gitanjali Shahani and Hans-Georg Erney, graduate students from the Department of English. Waqas Khwaja, who teaches English literature at Agnes Scott College, read some of his moving poems about the partition, which are written in the style of Urdu narrative poetry.

The final contribution was a performance entitled "The Other Side of Silence" by the Kaya Collective. Combining music, dance, theater, as well as testimonies by survivors of the partition, the performance provided an exciting example of how aesthetic pleasure can go hand in hand with the exploration of historical trauma.

The event was sponsored by the Emory Office of University-Community Partnerships, the Joint Activities Committee, the department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies, the Center for Teaching and Curriculum, and the Claus M. Halle Institute for Global Learning.

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