Shepherds, Memory, and 1947
Gaddis of the Western Himalayas
This article examines Gaddi memory construction and transmission, influenced by popular historical narratives from the agrarian communities with which they interacted. After considering the construction of Gaddi ‘Rajputs’ who migrated from Rajasthan—claims that are historically dubious but have obvious social utility—I draw from old fieldnotes to explore another salient memory. Specifically, I analyze Gaddi shepherds’ memories about the communitarian strife and massacre during the 1947 Partition of India at the high-altitude Himalayan pass connecting Chamba to the Kangra plains. These events are the ‘little histories’ of marginal people that give us an insight not only into small scale societies but also how an event of larger dimension impacts even geographically remote areas and tribal communities. Their collective memories of 1947 stand out when we consider that they have little recollection of their origins and historical past.
Copyright (c) 2023 Mahesh Sharma
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