Midnight’s Borders: A People’s History Of Modern India – Sucharita Vijayan
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‘By the end of my travels, I found myself not with one map of India, but many maps that looked far different from the one I thought I knew.’
India is a land of borders, its peripheries nestling against seven countries. Over seven years, across 9,000 miles, Suchitra Vijayan travelled these borderlands. The more she travelled, the clearer it became to her that local history and memory bear no resemblance to the political history of the nation that claims these lands and peoples.
From the densely populated border that India shares with Bangladesh to the highly disputed one with Pakistan, the stories in this book engage with how people live, struggle, fight and survive. A man escapes the floodlights that invade his home by blocking out all light, children use a border pillar as a handy cricket stump, and a family live out their lives beside the men who orchestrated their son’s death. These are stories that question our ideas of what freedom means and what it means to be a citizen. At a time when millions in India face loss of citizenship—the largest crisis of manufactured statelessness in human history—Vijayan’s clear-eyed, empathetic reportage provides a re-examination of the idea of territorial sovereignty.
Midnight’s Borders, featuring over forty original photographs, is a compelling narrative of a country in crisis, turning against its own people while coping with the legacy of colonialism and Partition. As the margins close in on the mainland, this necessary account forces a reckoning with the brutality that informs India’s relationship with its borderlands.
About the Author
Suchitra Vijayan was born and raised in Madras, India. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, GQ, The Boston Review, The Hindu and Foreign Policy.
A barrister by training, she previously worked for the United Nations war crimes tribunals in Yugoslavia and Rwanda before co-founding the Resettlement Legal Aid Project in Cairo, which gives legal aid to Iraqi refugees.
She is an award-winning photographer, the founder and executive director of the Polis Project, a hybrid research and journalism organisation. She lives in New York.