This book traces the social and political history of the Muslims of south India from the later nineteenth century to Independence in 1947, and the contours that followed. It describes a community in search of political survival amidst an ever-changing climate, and the fluctuating fortunes it had in dealing with the rise of Indian nationalism, the local political nuances of that rise, and its own changing position as part of the wider Muslim community in India.
The book argues that Partition and the foundation of Pakistan in 1947 were neither the goal nor the necessarily inescapable result of the growth of communal politics and sentiment, and analyses the post-1947 constructions of events leading to Partition. Neither the fact of Muslim communalism per se before 1947 nor the existence of separate Muslim electorates provide an explanation for Pakistan. The book advances the theory that micro-level studies of the operation of the former, and the defence of the latter, in British India can lead to a better understanding of the origins of communalism.
The book makes an important contribution to understanding and dealing with the complexities of communalism — be it Hindu, Muslim or Christian — and its often tragic consequences.
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Kenneth McPherson was Mercator Professor at Heidelberg University, Adjunct Professor at La Trobe University and also served as President of the Australian Association for Maritime History. Later he was affiliated with the Asia Research Centre at Murdoch University in Perth.
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