The 70th anniversary of the end of Britain’s Empire in India and the birth of the post-colonial states of India and Pakistan have led to a renewed interest in the portrayal of this distant and under-explored past in British arts and the media.
It does not always make for good history. In the stories told on film, radio and television – from the film Viceroy’s House, to BBC One’s My Family, Partition and Me: India 1947 and Radio 4’s Partition Voices – complexity and context are downplayed in favour of “British” stories of colonialism, anti-colonial movements and partition violence.
History is to be communicated through genealogies of the great and the good – of news correspondents, movie directors and radio presenters introducing the audience to their unknown and often unremarkable forebears. The social histories touched upon are never fully communicable because of the desire to avoid reflecting upon the wider political and cultural contexts in which these individuals lived and breathed. Continue reading “No dogs, no Indians: 70 years after partition, the legacy of British colonialism endures”