Select Page

Looking Back, Informing the Future: The 1947 Partition of British India

The Demographic and Humanitarian Consequences of the Partition

The humanitarian and social impacts of large shifts in where people live, where they move to, and how they are supported along the way to their first place of refuge increasingly occupy the focus of social scientists, government leaders, and international agencies. Partition has yet to be explored fully from these perspectives, despite its many resonances and lessons for our time.

Led by Professor Jennifer Leaning (FXB Center, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health), this project sheds light on the immediate and wide-ranging humanitarian consequences of Partition’s massive forced movement of people across borders, focusing on the relief and rehabilitation efforts of refugees by government at all levels and by local or national organizations.

Her work examines how civil society, medical professionals, ordinary people, and a wide array of government agencies collectively attempted to provide care and protection to the millions who crossed the borders and, along the way — over days, weeks, and/or months — experienced extreme physical and emotional threat and hardship.