The sentimental and the melodramatic: exploring Partition aesthetics
We seek essays for a volume (Routledge) looking at the sentimental and melodramatic aesthetics
of images, art, gossip, and writings that remind us of the unspeakable acts of 1947 and their
political and cultural aftershocks in Punjab and Bengal. Critics
who have variously written about the scale of sexual violence and disruption of everyday life, the
many kinds of injustices meted out to the homeless refugees, economic meltdowns, and many
other social and political issues, have somehow found it vexing that the stories of the displaced
are inchoate and unrelentingly sentimental, often bordering on fantasy. Instead of exploring these
sentimental kaleidoscopes, they dismiss them as sounds of silence, amnesia, cultural aphasia,
life in a social vacuum, and so on. The present volume breaks new ground by emphasizing the
sentimental and the melodramatic as a tremendous place to think about affects, subjectivities,
ethics, and recognition of life during and after the notorious event.
We welcome close readings of stories, memoirs and other texts, and ethnographies of any kind,
particularly those that explore biases, affects, desires, and subjectivities.
In a similar vein, we welcome essays that share the photographic memories of peoples, places,
and events not merely to represent the graphic nature of pathological violence, displacement and
so on, but to look closely at frozen moments and gestures that seem to have produced defining
features of our mental worlds as critics and interlocutors.
We particularly welcome essays emphasizing the inventions of popular and art house cinematic
genres and mythologies from the 1940s to the present in which memories of underdevelopment,
critiques of communist and post-nationalist dystopias, and a profound sense of the ennui of
political processes are evident.
We welcome essays on narratives written partially or entirely in dialects in cosmopolitan and
semi-urban places in the subcontinent as well as the diaspora.
We are excited to learn about the transit routes that made possible complex decisions such as
moving one’s home in 1948 as well as during the Bangladesh War of 1971.
We welcome essays on any other ideas not covered by these outlines as long as they theoretically
engage culture as an inclusive category and are focused on the geocultural politics of the Partition.
Affective readings will not be turned away and non-traditional approaches to essay writing are particularly encouraged.
Please send 500 word paper abstracts to the editors: Daisy Rockwell and
Abhijeet Paul by March 1, 2013. Final papers are due in October 2013
when the proposal is formally accepted by Routledge. Essays should not be more than 8000-
10,000 words (20-25 pages including footnotes). If your essay is more than the desired length,
please send us an email first. Essays should be original and not previously published.