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Partition, India-Pakistan (1947): Home

An overview of scholarly resources related to Indian independence and the creation of the state of Pakistan in 1947


This guide covers scholarly resources related to the division of British India into the nations of India and Pakistan, which formally took place at midnight on August 15, 1947. As the line was drawn to create new borders and tensions rose, upwards of a million people left their homes, resulting in tremendous loss and lasting political and social repercussions. As a result, Partition has been widely written about in scholarship on decolonization and South Asian history and identity. This guide attempts to offer access to different scholarly perspectives present within Partition studies. It provides a selection of primary and secondary sources that address Partition’s causes and aftermath, the process of decolonization and nation building, and associated violence and mass population migration.

The maps show India's changing borders under the British, the creation of Pakistan in 1947, and the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.

The maps show India's borders under the British Raj before 1947, the creation of Pakistan in 1947, and the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.

Who Should Use this Guide?

This guide is intended for undergraduate and graduate students conducting research on Partition, and the resources presented here are appropriate to the types of materials available in academic libraries. The resources in this guide will be particularly appropriate for students who are interested in history, South Asian studies, colonization and decolonization, Peace and Conflict studies, migration, memory, and oral history. This guide assumes a basic knowledge of modern South Asia, although some reference sources are presented in the Getting Started tab.

A Note on Word Choice and Perspective

Partition marks the creation of two new nation states and the formal end of British imperialism in India. As a period of transition, there are many words which can be used to describe the geographical and political entities involved in this event, and different sources presented in this guide will use different terms for a variety of reasons. This guide will attempt to use terms consistently for the sake of clarity and to aid in comparing the content of each source:

  • Within this guide, Independence will be used when discussing the formal end of British India and the politics of nation-building. Partition will be used to describe the creation of Pakistan through the drawing of a line on a map, political mobilizing for the state’s creation, relocation and violence at the moment of Independence, and subsequent issues related to this border.
  • This guide uses the terms British India and Indian when discussing people and governments involved in the Indian subcontinent before Independence. India and Pakistan will be used to refer to the independent states post-1947, and Pakistan will at times also be used to refer to Bangladesh before it was an independent country. Where appropriate, this guide will make reference to the state, region, or religious perspective being emphasized within a source.

How is this Guide Organized?