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Of Diasporas and A Nation-State

Kalim Bahadur

Edited by Virinder S. Kalra
Aakar Books, New Delhi, 2009, pp. 186, Rs. 495.00

By Kishori Lal
Manas Publications, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 186, Rs.495.00


The partition of India into two states had provoked widespread communal violence and bloodshed. It led to the largest migration of millions of people from one state to another. It also left a deep impact on the psyche of the people involved in the events. The book edited by Virinder S. Kalra is a collection of 16 research articles by scholars which deals with the subsequent emigration of people from Pakistan to other countries mainly after the separation of Bangladesh in 1971. The studies cover social, cultural and economic aspects of migration from Pakistan. Thus most of the studies deal with the migrations from Punjab, Sind, Baluchistan and the NWFP. Migrations from Pakistan occupied Kashmir are treated as migrations from Pakistan though that may be because of different social and political reasons. Most of the research on migration from Pakistan revolves round Britain though migrations to the Middle East, United States, Italy and Australia are also studied in some papers. The papers are divided in four sections; labour, gender, ritual and identity. The first section deals with the movement of labour from one country to another where there is greater demand for them viz, from areas of excess to those of demand, from the Third World to the West. This has its links with the contractual labour from the North Western Frontier Province which was the legacy of the indentured labour of the mid-nineteenth century. One other dimension of this is the migrations from Pakistan to the USA of the ‘high achieving brain drain generation of engineers and doctors, mostly male.’ In the next section an attempt has been made to look at the migrations from the experiences of women rather than that of men. There are complexities in transnational marriages particularly the restrictions on the immigration of either the groom or the bride. Rituals of the different communities particularly of the Muslims play a role in the lives of the migrants which lead to their ghettoization. The rituals associated with death and burial, and sacred journeys to Mecca and Madina among the Muslims play an important role in the segregation of migrants on the racial basis. Different identities which influence the diaspora normally are not static and create confusion. Mixed identities or hyphenated identities are one-sided and may not be accurate. For a variety of reasons there has been a shift in Pakistan’s diasporic context as there has been a ...

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