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1971

Release date: December 16, 2019
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Anam Zakaria is an oral historian and the author of Between the Great Divide: A Journey into Paki... Read More

Product Description

Anam Zakaria is an oral historian and the author of Between the Great Divide: A Journey into Pakistan-Administered Kashmir and The Footprints of Partition: Narratives of Four Generations of Pakistanis and Indians, which won her the 2017 KLF German Peace Prize. She works as a development professional and cultural facilitator, and writes frequently on issues of conflict and peace in South Asia. Her work has appeared in Dawn, Wire, Scroll and Al Jazeera. Born and raised in Lahore, Anam currently lives in Toronto. 1971 is her third book.

The year 1971 exists everywhere in Bangladesh-on its roads, in sculptures, in its museums and oral history projects, in its curriculum, in people's homes and their stories, and in political discourse. It marks the birth of the nation, it's liberation. More than 1000 miles away, in Pakistan too, 1971 marks a watershed moment, its memories sitting uncomfortably in public imagination. It is remembered as the 'Fall of Dacca', the dismemberment of Pakistan or the third Indo-Pak war. In India, 1971 represents something else-the story of humanitarian intervention, of triumph and valour that paved the way for India's rise as a military power, the beginning of its journey to becoming a regional superpower.
Navigating the widely varied terrain that is 1971 across Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, Anam Zakaria sifts through three distinct state narratives, and studies the institutionalization of the memory of the year and its events. Through a personal journey, she juxtaposes state narratives with people's history on the ground, bringing forth the nuanced experiences of those who lived through the war. Using intergenerational interviews, textbook analyses, visits to schools and travels to museums and sites commemorating 1971, Zakaria explores the ways in which 1971 is remembered and forgotten across countries, generations and communities.

Narratives and their analysis in the backdrop of history form the scaffold of Zakaria's research enterprise. She is eclectic in selecting the respondents. Thus we have Bengali Muslims and Hindus from Bangladesh, a Punjabi tea plantation manager who adopted a Christian name to make a clean escape, Bengali informants from India and Pakistan, Punjabis in Pakistan who served in former East Pakistan, Biharis stranded in Bangladesh. This involves deep conversation with them on subjects as varied as livelihood, experience, loss of friends and members of family, prejudices and stereotypes, politics, nationhood and national identity.Zakaria goes beyond the politics over the 1971 war in all three countries, whether it is silence (Pakistan), a sense of triumph (India) or a yardstick for nationalism (Bangladesh). She pits the people's history against the official history - that mostly becomes a victim of politics and state agenda, especially in third-world countries where the truth often lies buried - to show how people remember the conflict and how states influence what people remember.Zakaria's work recognises the limitations involved in relying on memories to understand historical truths and uses them to its advantage. At its core, 1971 begins with the premise that there is no all-embracing homogenous narrative on the events that led to the creation of Bangladesh. Therefore, the war memories presented in the book may provide a single strand of a complex, multifaceted history.In many ways, Zakaria's book is an important act of solidarity on the part of a Pakistani. For many years Bangladeshis have been demanding that Pakistan should formally apologise for the atrocities of 1971 but such apologies are not easily given, particularly not by states. Citizens, however, have that option. Many years ago, in a women's meeting in Lahore, Pakistani women's groups exercised this option when, over a day of moving music and intense conversation, they offered a formal apology to their Bangladeshi sisters. Zakaria's book follows this distinguished heritage.Zakaria is a fine ambassador of Pakistani liberalism-sceptical, defying norms, polite, a listener full of empathy.This is an important book that looks at the diverse and conflicting ways in which the making of Bangladesh is remembered in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India... The book argues, persuasively and convincingly, that memory and amnesia have been more of a 'project' rather than natural and organic processes.Official narratives in Pakistan ... tend to blame the 'Hindu culture' of Bangladesh, and the Indian interference for the war. Ms Zakaria challenges such narratives, but also reveals how these have infiltrated personal memories.

Product Details

Title: 1971
Author: Anam Zakaria
SKU: BK0423077
EAN: 9780670090129
Language: English
Binding: Hardcover
Release date: December 16, 2019

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