Iqbal Singh Sevea
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Partitioned identities? Regional, caste and national identity in Pakistan
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Since its emergence in 1947, the state of Pakistan has grappled with the challenge of constructing a national identity that either supersedes or incorporates various markers of linguistic, regional and ethnic identity. Following the partition, Pakistan literally had to create a new Pakistani identity among individuals who, on the one hand, lacked a sense of ‘sameness’ with others inhabiting the territorial boundaries of the state, and, on the other hand, continued to share linguistic, regional, ethnic and religious identities with people across the border. This chapter examines how regional, caste and linguistic identities, which have a transnational dimension, relate to, are reshaped by, and resist, the Pakistani state’s attempts to shape a national identity and notion of a shared past. It focuses specifically on the province of Punjab, which was partitioned between India and Pakistan. The aim is to demonstrate how alternative imaginations of the self and community in films, songs and ballads respond to and challenge the state constructions of nationhood. Particular focus is paid to the popular portrayal of two rebellious figures – Maula Jatt and Dullah Bhatti. Regional, caste and linguistic identities in Punjab are not, however, approached in this chapter as primordial and unchanging. Indeed, the act of ‘partitioning’, and the subsequent displacement of people, gave rise to conceptions of loss, displacement and separation which, in turn, shaped notions of identity.

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The breakup of India and Palestine

The causes and legacies of partition

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