Cover of Partitions by Edited by Arie M. Dubnov and Laura Robson
A Transnational History of Twentieth-Century Territorial Separatism
Edited by Arie M. Dubnov and Laura Robson


400 pages.
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Hardcover ISBN: 9781503606982
Paperback ISBN: 9781503607675
Ebook ISBN: 9781503607682

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Partition—the physical division of territory along ethno-religious lines into separate nation-states—is often presented as a successful political "solution" to ethnic conflict. In the twentieth century, at least three new political entities—the Irish Free State, the Dominions (later Republics) of India and Pakistan, and the State of Israel—emerged as results of partition. This volume offers the first collective history of the concept of partition, tracing its emergence in the aftermath of the First World War and locating its genealogy in the politics of twentieth-century empire and decolonization.

Making use of the transnational framework of the British Empire, which presided over the three major partitions of the twentieth century, contributors draw out concrete connections among the cases of Ireland, Pakistan, and Israel—the mutual influences, shared personnel, economic justifications, and material interests that propelled the idea of partition forward and resulted in the violent creation of new post-colonial political spaces. In so doing, the volume seeks to move beyond the nationalist frameworks that served in the first instance to promote partition as a natural phenomenon.

About the authors

Arie M. Dubnov is Associate Professor of History and the Max Ticktin Chair of Israel Studies at George Washington University.

Laura Robson is Associate Professor of History at Portland State University.

"It is fitting that this commendable revisionist history should appear a century after the end of World War I, when partition first emerged as a highly mobile, transnational paradigm. Tracing the movement of partition theories and practices across multiple colonial spaces, this volume resists both functional explanations and the balance-sheet approach in favor of a deeply historicized account of partition's multiple lives and afterlives across the twentieth century and beyond."

—Antoinette Burton, University of Illinois

"A historical sweep of the imperial origins, transnational dynamics, and local calamities of the era of territorial partitions; and a cautionary tale."

—Gershon Shafir, University of California, San Diego

"Dubnov and Robson offer a compelling and rich collection of essays that demonstrate the historical and theoretical complexities of the partitions projects. Reading this noteworthy volume will benefit historians, political scientists, and those interested in the historical relevance of partitions to the creation of the contemporary international order."––Or Rosenboim, Global Intellectual History

"This edited volume provides a timely and much-needed contribution by situating partition within a rich transnational historical context to delineate its genealogy as much as its limitations....its analysis and transnational perspective are precious."

—Leila Farsakh, Journal of Palestine Studies

"[One] of the most well-integrated and well-written edited volumes of the British Empire's partitioning of Palestine, Ireland, and India ever produced....[A] rich exploration of multiple perceptions of partition, how partition was manipulated transnationally to serve select interests, and the lessons these cases have for understanding majorities, minorities, territorial control, and security in many of today's conflicts."

—Carter Johnson, E-International Relations

"The authors of Partitions provide a critical examination of humankind's new favorite fiction: the ethnostate. With its expansive subject matter, lucid argumentation and increasing relevancy, Partitions is an admirable work of collaborative scholarship."

—Max Saltman, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

"Partitions offers critical and compelling reading for students and scholars of twentieth-century empire, Indian nationalism, Zionism, Palestine/Israel, and decolonization."

—Elizabeth E. Imber, Journal of Israeli History

"Although other histories of partition in Ireland, Israel and Palestine, and South Asia have been necessarily transnational in scope, Dubnov and Robson's anthology places scholars otherwise siloed in their respective postcolonial regions of expertise into fruitful conversation with each other."

—Pankhuree Dube, Journal of British Studies