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Contesting refugeehood: squatting as survival in post-partition Calcutta

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In the aftermath of conflicts, refugees are often treated as helpless victims of trauma in need of international aid and intervention. Refugees can and do however move beyond the culture of dependency to create sustainable existences within their new environments. While much attention is given to the politics of displacement, humanitarian intervention and human rights of refugees, little is written about the ways in which refugees actually live, particularly those who have chosen to settle themselves rather than allow outside powers to intervene in their settlement choices. This article looks at how the refugee settlement process has taken place in Calcutta in the aftermath of the 1947 partition, and how that process has very much been influenced by the trauma of losing social position in their ancestral country and the desire to regain it and belong to a new land.
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Keywords: Calcutta; colonies; partition; refugees; resettlement; squatting

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Rice University, Chao Centre for Asian Studies, USA

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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