ABOUT THE BOOK
Changing Homelands offers a
startling new perspective on what was and was not politically possible in
late colonial India. In this highly readable account of Partition in Punjab,
Neeti Nair rejects the idea that essential differences between the Hindu and
Muslim communities made political settlement impossible. Far from being an
inevitable solution, the idea of Partition came as a very late and stunning
surprise to the majority of Hindus in the region.
In tracing the political and social history of Punjab
from the early years of the twentieth century, Nair overturns the entrenched
view that Muslims were responsible for Partition. She shows that many powerful
Punjabi Hindus also preferred Partition and contributed to its adoption, as
well as that almost no one foresaw the death and devastation that followed.
Though much has been written on the politics of the
Muslim and Sikh communities in Punjab, Nair is the first historian to focus on
the Hindu minority, both before and long after the divide of 1947. She engages
with politics in post-Partition India by drawing from oral histories that
reveal the complex relationship between memory and history—a relationship that
continues to inform politics between India and Pakistan.
NEETI NAIR was at Tufts for her PhD and is currently an
assistant professor of history at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville.
powerful book claims that for Punjab’s Hindus there was nothing inevitable
about the coming of Partition. She offers new and challenging interpretations
of major events and personalities, which will transform our understandings of
Punjab’s relationship to the Indian nationalist movement. Her discussion of
Punjab’s partition and the subsequent memory of Partition among Delhi Hindus is
a tour de force.”—David Gilmartin
“This engagingly written book places Punjabi Hindus at
the center of Partition scholarship. Nair’s often devastating examination of
the complex considerations and unfathomable burdens that weighed on the minds
of millions as they ‘chose’ to migrate reveals fresh thinking about religion
and politics in South Asia.”—Mridu Rai