Shepherds, Memory, and 1947

Gaddis of the Western Himalayas


  • Mahesh Sharma



Memory, migration, upward-mobility, partition-songs, violence-songs


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.




How to Cite

Sharma, M. (2023). Shepherds, Memory, and 1947: Gaddis of the Western Himalayas. HIMALAYA - The Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies, 42(2), 100–118.

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