Spirals of Contention: Why India was Partitioned in 1947, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Spirals of Contention

Why India was Partitioned in 1947, 1st Edition

By Satish Saberwal

Routledge India

240 pages

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This study examines the social and psychological processes that led to the Partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. It recognizes the long-term continuities in the idiom of conflict (as well as cooperation), and shows that, by 1900, the conflicts and animosities were gathering a self-aggravating momentum. The book moves back and forth between evidence and general, or theoretical, understanding.

Separateness between Hindus and Muslims grew reciprocally, with hardening religious identities and the growing frequency of incidents of conflict. These skirmishes had several dimensions: symbolic (desecrating places of worship), societal (conversions), and physical (violence against women). As mutual trust declined, a quarter century of negotiations under diverse auspices failed to yield an agreement, and even the framework of the Partition in 1947 was imposed by the colonial rulers.

A theoretically informed study, this book takes a comparative stance along several axes. Recognizing long-term continuities in the idiom of conflict (as well as of cooperation), it will be of interest to students of conflicts, Partitions, history, sociology, and South Asian studies.


His last and arguably most important book…

T. N. Madan, Honorary Professor, Institute of Economic Growth, University of Delhi

Table of Contents

Preface. Acknowledgements.Introduction. 1. Medieval Legacy 2. Facing the Future 1 3. Facing the Future 2 4. Nineteenth Century Anxieties 5. Parallel Processes 6. Drifting Apart. Concluding Review. Bibliography. About the Author. Index

About the Author

Satish Saberwal was formerly Professor of Sociology, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Asia / India & South Asia