Televising the Partition of British India: Memory, Identity and the Privatisation of the Past in 70th Anniversary Commemorative Broadcasting

Clelia Clini, Jasmine Hornabrook, Emily Keightley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


2017 marked the 70th anniversary of the end of colonial rule in British India and of the division of the country into the two independent states of India and Pakistan. To commemorate the event, in August 2017, the BBC broadcast a series of programmes focused specifically on Partition. Focusing on My Family, Partition and Me: India 1947, this article analyses the programme’s structure and rhetorical strategies, with particular reference to its representation of the empire and of contemporary postcolonial Britain. We argue that the show, by merging personal and national histories, successfully promotes an inclusive perspective on Britishness, in line with the BBC’s inclusivity remit, which also emphasises the multicultural character of Britain as a result of its colonial history. The emphasis on individualised account of suffering and resilience, however, leaves Partition circumscribed within the ‘temporary madness’ narrative, thus limiting the show’s engagement with the politics of colonialism and decolonisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-559
Number of pages17
JournalMedia History
Issue number4
Early online date29 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes

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