From Subjects to Citizens: Society and the Everyday State in India and Pakistan 1947 - 1964

Catherine Coombs

Catherine Coombs

jhm3cebc@leeds.ac.uk

Catherine Coombs' research focuses on the British experience of the independence and partition, through a case study of 1940s Punjab. Using ex-civil service memoirs as core sources, the project approaches partition in terms of its subsequent representation through the reflections the men recorded in coming to terms with their experiences. Written largely in the 1970s, the memoirs both contribute to and reflect a period of resurgent popular interest in Britain’s colonial past. Thus the work is partly a case study, and partly a broader analysis of the fall-out of partition violence and independence in Britain’s image of itself.

Key issues include: the role of the local state when faced with violence, and how the men in this position understood and represented their experiences; the mentality of the last generation of colonial administrators; and the narratives that have resulted in popular understandings of the colonial past in postcolonial Britain.