Past Event

A talk by Rotem Geva (Hebrew University)

March 20, 2023
4:15 PM - 5:45 PM
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New Histories of Media Across the Indo-Pakistan Border Series

A talk by Rotem Geva 

“Printing Conflict: The Urdu Press in Post-Partition Delhi”

Time:  4:15pm - 5:45pm

Location:  Room 208 Knox Hall, 606 West 122nd Street, between Broadway and Claremont

Moderated by Isabel Huacuja Alonso (MESAAS)

Talk abstract:  In 1947, India’s capital city Delhi experienced mass violence and demographic transformation, with more than half a million Hindu and Sikh refugees arriving from Pakistan and roughly 350,000 Muslims fleeing in the opposite direction. My talk discusses how this demographic transformation was mirrored and negotiated in Delhi’s press world. While the minoritization of India’s Muslims is often associated with the marginalization of Urdu, the talk reveals the decade after independence as a twilight during which Urdu was the main journalistic medium forging the two rival publics in the city—Muslims and refugees–and their competing claims to the city. The extensive and intense editorial exchanges between Muslim and refugee editors, which centered on secularism and minority rights, created an extremely aggressive yet shared vernacular public sphere, anchored at a time when Urdu served as a lingua franca, thereby pointing to the gradual and deferred nature of partition.

Rotem Geva is a Lecturer in the Department of Asian Studies and the History Department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is a historian of modern South Asia, concentrating on twentieth-century India, with a particular interest in the transition from colonial rule to independence. Her recent book is entitled Delhi Reborn: Partition and Nation Building in India’s Capital (Stanford University Press, 2022). The book explores Delhi’s transformation under the pressures of the Second World War and the partition of India during the years 1940-1955. Bridging studies of high politics with the ground-level experience of partition, it shows what the politics of the nation-state meant in everyday life. She holds a PhD in History from Princeton University, and an MA in Anthropology from the New School for Social Research.