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Re-curating a literary utopia
Creative resistance in Preet Nagar
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In this chapter we focus on creative approaches to understanding what Partition means today in a part of East Punjab close to the Indo-Pak border, more specifically, the village of Preet Nagar. Preet Nagar was founded as an intended community by the Punjabi literary figure Gurbakhsh Singh (1895–1977), a member of the Progressive Writers Association (founded in 1936). The chapter is based on our work in Preet Nagar between 2017–19, which used the village’s history as an artists’ colony with a radical humanist, socialist vision as the starting point for an interruption of mainstream methods in representations of Partition history. The chapter offers an introduction to the importance of the Progressive Writers Association in the 1930s and how the principles of inclusive and co-operative artistic work have, and have not, persisted into the contemporary lives of the residents of Preet Nagar. It argues that while the original vision of Preet Nagar may have been disrupted by the violence and legacy of Partition, there are still vital connections to pre-Partition Punjab which can offer the framework for radical and inclusive arts practice, including art and literature.

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