Partition and the Radcliffe Line

Cracking India: The Line that Still Bleeds

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project statement

This anti-memorial comprises of a series of neon sculptures that memorialize the Radcliffe Line. Created in 1947, which divided British India into India, East Pakistan and West Pakistan. In 1971, East Pakistan became Bangladesh. These two violent and bloody partitions embody not only the violent history of the sub-continent but also haunts the current geopolitical landscape of South Asia.

The Radcliffe Line was drawn by men, Sir Cyril Radcliffe the chief architect of the new border, Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy of British India, and Hindu and Muslim judges that were in the Boundary Commission. However, the partitions were a highly gendered experience.

 

The neon sculptures in this anti-memorial depict the Radcliffe Line West and the Radcliffe Line East, which are the India-Pakistan border, and the India-Bangladesh border, respectively. Since pink is a color stereotypically associated with women, I appropriate this stereotype for my own feminist purposes. The  neon sculptures are created in a bright pink color, to subversively gender the Radcliffe Line as feminine so as to highlight the impact it had on Hindu, Muslim, Bengali, and Sikh women in 1947 and 1971.

The title of this project is inspired by a novel titled “Cracking India,” written by Bapsi Sidhwa, a Parsi feminist writer. In the semi-autobiographical novel, a young girl child narrates the Partition of India through her eyes.

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