MSAS Seminar: Entangled Objects, Entangled Nations: Partition and Museums in Lahore and Chandigarh

Aparna Kumar (UCL)

This presentation presents a new history of the Lahore Museum in Pakistan, an institution whose collections of art and archaeological were dramatically divided between India and Pakistan in response to the partition of 1947. This history upholds the material archive, as an essential vantage point from which to understand the partition’s empirical, epistemological, and emotional ramifications for art and society in South Asia. It traces the division and dispersion of the Lahore Museum’s collections in the twentieth century, against the broader turmoil of the period, to expound the crisis of dispossession that art and museums in South Asia faced in response to this unprecedented process of social, political, economic, and cultural fragmentation. My analysis will engage the Lahore collections, and objects of art more broadly, as fragments of a violent division of place, identity, and humanity, and as “fragmentary points of view” whose mobilities across borders and temporalities demand and make possible richer definitions of nation, citizenship, partition, and postcolonialism. 

Aparna Kumar is a Lecturer in Art and Visual Cultures of the Global South. She received her Ph.D. in Art History at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2018. Her research and teaching focus on modern and contemporary South Asian art, twentieth-century partition history, museum studies, and postcolonial theory. Kumar’s research has been supported by fellowships and grants from the Fulbright-Nehru Research Program, the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS), the American Institute of Pakistan Studies (AIPS), the Critical Language Scholarship Program, and the University of California, Los Angeles. Her dissertation project, Partition and the Historiography of Art in South Asia, was awarded the inaugural UC Berkeley South Asia Art and Architecture Dissertation Prize in 2021.

All are welcome

Enquiries: or 01865-274559