University of Virginia, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Neeti Nair

Associate Professor, History


“India’s Partition: Literature, Culture, Politics”

How did the partition of the Indian subcontinent resolve the problem of belonging for minority religious communities – in India, Pakistan, and later, Bangladesh? If Pakistan was designed to create a ‘homeland’ for the Muslims of the subcontinent, was India meant to serve as a homeland for the Hindus? How, then, did the Hindus of Pakistan and the Muslims of India learn to live and build community in these newly majoritarian countries? Did the state ideologies of secularism and Islam enable both minorities and majorities to flourish on terms of equality? In ‘The Problem of Belonging after the Partition of India’, I examine debates on political representation alongside literary representations of religious minorities as a way to understand how the contradictions wrought by the partition were sought to be resolved in subsequent decades. This is part of a longer book length project on India’s Partition: Politics, Culture, Memory.


Neeti Nair is an associate professor of history at the University of Virginia and Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. She is the author of Changing Homelands: Hindu Politics and the Partition of India, Harvard University Press and Permanent Black, 2011. Her articles have appeared in scholarly journals such as Modern Asian StudiesIndian Economic and Social History Review, and the Economic and Political Weekly, as well as in media outlets such as The Print, the Indian Express and India Today. Nair has held fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, American Institute of Indian Studies, Andrew Mellon Foundation, Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.