Download the full-sized PDF of The Refugee Woman: Partition of Bengal, Women, and the Everyday of the NationDownload the full-sized PDF



Permanent link (DOI):


Export to: EndNote  |  Zotero  |  Mendeley


This file is in the following communities:

Graduate Studies and Research, Faculty of


This file is in the following collections:

Theses and Dissertations

The Refugee Woman: Partition of Bengal, Women, and the Everyday of the Nation Open Access


Other title
Partition of Bengal (1947)
Ritwik Ghatak
Everyday World
Refugee Woman
Sabitri Roy
Jyotirmoyee Devi
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Chakraborty, Paulomi
Supervisor and department
Slemon, Stephen (English and Film Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Sourayan Mookerjea (Sociology)
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan (English, New York University)
Okome, Onookome (English and Film Studies)
Zwicker, Heather (English and Film Studies)
Department of English and Film Studies

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
In this dissertation I analyze the figure of the East-Bengali refugee woman in Indian literature on the Partition of Bengal of 1947. I read the figure as one who makes visible, and thus opens up for critique, the conditions that constitute the category ‘women’ in the discursive terrain of post-Partition/post-Independence India. The figure of the refugee woman, thereby, allows us to map the relationship between the category women and the collective imaginary, specifically the nation. I argue that the figure of the refugee woman explicates, interrupts, and critiques the relationship of ‘women’ to the nation in the normative patriarchal nationalist discourse, which constructs women as a sign of the nation. The representational import of the refugee woman pushes the signification of ‘women’ in relation to the collective from a sign to that of a subject. My analysis of the refugee woman is, thus, a critical engagement with the tension between ‘women’ as figurative and ‘women’ as historical-material categories, although both are imagined within the field of discursive signification. I develop my argument by analyzing three major texts from West Bengal, India that respond to the Partition to critically apprehend the radical charge inherent in the figure of the refugee woman. These texts are the film Meghe Dhaka Tara (Cloud-Capped Star; 1960) by Ritwik Ghatak, and the novels Epar Ganga, Opar Ganga (The River Churning; 1967) by Jyotirmoyee Devi and Swaralipi (The Notations; 1952) by Sabitri Roy. The larger argument of the dissertation is that the Partition, as a historical event, lies in contiguity and continuity with the normative regime of the gendered ‘everyday world.’ Therefore, the Partition allows us to examine the historical configurations of power that make the gendered everyday but that cannot be easily discerned from within the ‘everyday.’ Within the rubric of this larger argument lies my contention that the figure of the refugee woman has the radical potential to make visible the traumatic relationship between the extraordinary violence of the Partition and the gendered, ordinary, everyday life.
License granted by Paulomi Chakraborty ( on 2009-12-08T05:12:14Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication

File Details

Date Uploaded
Date Modified
Audit Status
Audits have not yet been run on this file.
File format: pdf (Portable Document Format)
Mime type: application/pdf
File size: 2483456
Last modified: 2015:10:12 11:37:41-06:00
Filename: Chakraborty_Paulomi_Spring 2010.pdf
Original checksum: 553658d9daf852983e0fce18775c0c2c
Well formed: true
Valid: true
File title: Prefatory pages
File title: Microsoft Word - Prefatory pages.doc
File author: Paulomi Chakraborty
Page count: 392
Activity of users you follow
User Activity Date