Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

History

First Advisor

Dr. Lucy Chester

Second Advisor

Dr. Matthew Gerber

Third Advisor

Dr. David Brown

Abstract

This thesis explores the partition of British India into India and Pakistan. While focusing on the politics behind the partition, it also looks at the development of Indian nationalisms under British rule, as Indians began to form their own political movements and to demand independence. To cover the full scope of this cataclysmic event, this thesis looks at the conditions that led to the split starting in the nineteenth century through the partition itself in the first half of the twentieth century. Topics such as British imperialism, the communal problem, relations between the Muslim and Hindu communities in India, and the politics behind the partition of India are highlighted in this project. By covering this breadth of topics as well as time, this thesis narrates the waves of division and unity between the two communities, in connection with the evolution of British imperialism, as India moved towards independence. At this time in India, religion and politics were very much intertwined, so by discussing the development of Indian nationalism in response to British imperialism, this paper looks to separate the two by providing the scope and context necessary to see the politicization of religion in the subcontinent, and argue that in the end the partition was motivated by politics rather than religion. Through the use of a variety of speeches and letters and other primary sources, as well as an assortment of work written by other scholars, this thesis demonstrates both the complexity of the issue and the many factors and events that influenced the final shape of Indian independence. By doing so, this thesis looks to contribute to the debate over the factors most significant to the partition of India.

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