Par­ti­tion trauma and so­cial iden­tity

FrontLine - - BOOKS IN REVIEW - BY PARTHASARATHI MON­DAL

The book fo­cusses on the psy­cho­log­i­cal and so­cial di­men­sions of the dis­tress and trauma emerg­ing out of Par­ti­tion, but a dis­cus­sion on the rhi­zomatic web of caste is ab­sent in Par­ti­tion stud­ies.

T

HE book un­der re­view is a wel­come con­tri­bu­tion to the study of the psy­cho­log­i­cal im­pact of the par­ti­tion of In­dia. It lays on the ta­ble the re­or­gan­i­sa­tion of med­i­cal and psy­chi­atric ser­vices on ac­count of Par­ti­tion and the re­sul­tant ne­glect of the psy­cho­log­i­cal di­men­sions of Par­ti­tion in symp­toma­tol­ogy and in treat­ment and care.

Sev­eral of its chap­ters fo­cus on the psy­cho­log­i­cal and so­cial di­men­sions of the dis­tress and trauma caused by Par­ti­tion such as vul­ner­a­bil­ity and vi­o­lence; po­lit­i­cal trauma, men­tal ill­ness and iden­tity cri­sis; so­cial progress, pol­i­tics, and med­i­cal care; and, psy­chi­a­try’s re­luc­tance to ac­count for the so­cial-psy­cho­log­i­cal lo­ca­tion of the in­di­vid­ual.

This is a be­gin­ning in men­tal health stud­ies, es­pe­cially in In­dia and South Asia, but be­gin­nings are often com­pro­mised when their foun­da­tions are not ad­e­quately re­flected upon.

The ra­tio­nale for the work re­mains rooted in the ortho­dox take on the phi­los­o­phy and epis­te­mol­ogy of psy­chi­a­try as sci­ence deswhich pite protes­ta­tions, ques­tion­ings and elab­o­ra­tions to the con­trary and the “pre-oc­cu­pa­tion” with the so­cial.

BROAD DO­MAINS OF RE­FLEC­TION

The book’s en­gage­ment with the “so­cial” and “psy­cho­log­i­cal” re­mains per­func­tory and in­ad­e­quately the­o­rised; thus, it is lit­tered with quick and cur­sory state­ments on com­pli­cated and fun­da­men­tal the­o­ret­i­cal ques­tions and no­tions aris­ing from the lit­er­a­ture to which it al­ludes and to it does not.

The work could be lo­cated in two broad do­mains of re­flec­tion, namely Par­ti­tion stud­ies and men­tal health stud­ies. There are two ways in which it can be viewed: one is to note this or that as­pect of con­tem­po­rary schol­ar­ship on Par­ti­tion in In­dia and South Asia specif­i­cally and on Par­ti­tion, mi­gra­tion and bor­der­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally, which have not mer­ited at­ten­tion or have been con­sid­ered in­ci­den­tally in the chap­ters. The other way is to raise the ques­tion of per­spec­tive or frame­work that oc­ca­sions and guides the study. A few salient ab­sences in the book in the con­text of Par­ti­tion stud­ies are the fol­low­ing. It re­flects the eli­sion of two ma­jor con­sid­er­a­tions, that is, the ques­tion of the par­ti­tion of eastern In­dia and the ques­tion of caste.

PAR­TI­TION OF EASTERN IN­DIA

Al­most all the es­says in it are lo­cated in the north­ern or north-western re­gion of In­dia, phys­i­cally and cog­ni­tively vis-a-vis Par­ti­tion de­spite the re­cent ef­forts of a fairly large cor­pus of lit­er­a­ture on the par­ti­tion in eastern In­dia (specif­i­cally, Ben­gal (West Ben­gal/ Bangladesh), As­sam and parts of the other States of north-eastern In­dia) at­tempt­ing to over­come the his­tor­i­cal de­fi­ciency of study­ing eastern In­dia in Par­ti­tion stud­ies. This lit­er­a­ture, based on al­most all the gen­res that have been used in the work (that is, the hu­man­i­ties, per­form­ing arts, and the so­cial sciences), alerts the stu­dent of Par­ti­tion on the mas­sive his­tor­i­cal and civil­i­sa­tion speci­fici­ties of

The Psy­cho­log­i­cal Im­pact of the Par­ti­tion of In­dia Edited by Sanjeev Jain and Alok SarinSage, New Delhi, 2018Pages: 260Price: Rs.850

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