The introductory chapter of the book begins by attributing the renewed interest in the memories of survivors of Partition 1947 to ‘the memory turn’ in history. It introduces key debates in history, memory, trauma, refugees and displacement and summarizes the theoretical literature in these areas used to frame the memories and postmemories of survivors of Partition 1947 in the book. It provides an overview of existing studies on Partition to show how the book both extends and complicates earlier perspectives before outlining its primary concerns and arguments.
The Introduction focuses on the ethics and aesthetics of remembrance by posing certain fundamental questions: What good is the memory archive? How can it deliver what history alone no longer seems to offer? In view of doubts raised by the factual accuracy of oral storytelling, why are stories being increasingly used to reconstruct histories? How do we carry the stories of survivors forward without appropriating them? What is at stake in the stories? Why do we need to circulate stories that were intended to be shared in the intimate embodied space of the family?