Midnight’s Borders: A People’s History of Modern India

Suchitra Vijayan

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India is a land of borders, its peripheries nestling against seven countries. Over seven years, across 9,000 miles, Suchitra Vijayan travelled these borderlands. The more she travelled, the clearer it became to her that local history and memory bear no resemblance to the political history of the nation that claims these lands and peoples.

From the densely populated border that India shares with Bangladesh to the highly disputed one with Pakistan, the stories in this book engage with how people live, struggle, fight and survive. A man escapes the floodlights that invade his home by blocking out all light, children use a border pillar as a handy cricket stump, and a family live out their lives beside the men who orchestrated their son’s death. These are stories that question our ideas of what freedom means and what it means to be a citizen. At a time when millions in India face loss of citizenship—the largest crisis of manufactured statelessness in human history—Vijayan’s clear-eyed, empathetic reportage provides a re-examination of the idea of territorial sovereignty.

Midnight’s Borders, featuring over forty original photographs, is a compelling narrative of a country in crisis, turning against its own people while coping with the legacy of colonialism and Partition. As the margins close in on the mainland, this necessary account forces a reckoning with the brutality that informs India’s relationship with its borderlands.