Partition—the physical division of territory along ethno-religious lines into separate nation-states—is often presented as a successful political “solution” to ethnic conflict. In the twentieth century, at least three new political entities—the Irish Free State, the Dominions (later Republics) of India and Pakistan, and the State of Israel—emerged as results of partition. This volume offers the first collective history of the concept of partition, tracing its emergence in the aftermath of the First World War and locating its genealogy in the politics of twentieth-century empire and decolonization.
Making use of the transnational framework of the British Empire, which presided over the three major partitions of the twentieth century, contributors draw out concrete connections among the cases of Ireland, Pakistan, and Israel—the mutual influences, shared personnel, economic justifications, and material interests that propelled the idea of partition forward and resulted in the violent creation of new post-colonial political spaces. In so doing, the volume seeks to move beyond the nationalist frameworks that served in the first instance to promote partition as a natural phenomenon.
About the authors
Arie M. Dubnov is Associate Professor of History and the Max Ticktin Chair of Israel Studies at George Washington University.
Laura Robson is Associate Professor of History at Portland State University.
“It is fitting that this commendable revisionist history should appear a century after the end of World War I, when partition first emerged as a highly mobile, transnational paradigm. Tracing the movement of partition theories and practices across multiple colonial spaces, this volume resists both functional explanations and the balance-sheet approach in favor of a deeply historicized account of partition’s multiple lives and afterlives across the twentieth century and beyond.”
—Antoinette Burton, University of Illinois
“A historical sweep of the imperial origins, transnational dynamics, and local calamities of the era of territorial partitions; and a cautionary tale.”
—Gershon Shafir, University of California, San Diego