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Spaces before partition: an Introduction

Legg, Stephen; Gould, William


William Gould


This introduction frames a selection of papers that encourage a richer spatial understanding of the years before the partition of India. The papers respond to two types of question. One type is spatial (at what scale to do we approach partition? Through which spaces should we attempt to understand both micro and macro processes? Movements across what distances constituted partition?). The second type is temporal (what timescales do we invoke when approaching partition? Of what was it the endpoint? What sort of memories were invoked and made during India’s multiple partitions?). This introduction establishes the main trends in partition historiography, tracked through the last two decennial anniversaries. It sketches out spatial analyses of partition to date, regarding territory and displacement especially, but shows that much of this geographical interpretation has been implicit rather than explicit, and that most have begun with partition. Whilst framing many of their arguments in twentieth-century colonial practice, and occasionally straying into the post-colonial, the papers in this special issue mostly focus on the 1930s-40s at a range of scales (from the international, through the nation-state, to cities, mohallas, and courtrooms). Collectively they make the argument that if partition has a history, then it also has an historical geography. We hope these papers will help people read these histories and geographies with a finer spatial eye.


Legg, S., & Gould, W. (2019). Spaces before partition: an Introduction. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 42(1), 69-79.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 28, 2018
Online Publication Date Jan 30, 2019
Publication Date Jan 30, 2019
Deposit Date Oct 1, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jul 31, 2020
Journal South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies
Print ISSN 0085-6401
Electronic ISSN 1479-0270
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 42
Issue 1
Pages 69-79
Keywords Development; Cultural Studies; Sociology and Political Science; History
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in South Asia on 30 January 2019, available online:


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