MSAS Seminar: TT22, wk 2: ‘British Bolé Baap Re Baap’ - World War II and the Prospect of ‘Quit India’ in Bengal: ‘War’ Rumours and ‘Revolutionary’ Parties

Convener: Nayanika Mathur

Speaker: Anwesha Roy (Faculty of Oriental Studies)


This talk will look at the years 1940–42 in Bengal with a view to analyse the social fuel that made the Quit India Movement possible in the province. War-time colonial policies created multiple disruptions and intrusions in the lives of the people of Bengal, building up anxieties and mass discontent. Coupled with widespread rumours, this profoundly reconfigured the image of the colonial state. This paper attempts to tap into the psyche of colonised minds in Bengal in the early stages of the war, which began to question British invincibility in the face of serious reverses in Southeast Asia. When a potent mix of mass discontent and rumour was combined with ‘revolutionary’ political activism in the countryside, it acted as an explosive catalyst, animating the Quit India Movement.

Dr. Anwesha Roy is a Departmental Lecturer in Indian History and Culture at the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford. She has completed her PhD. In History from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in India, followed by the EU funded Marie-Curie Post Doctoral Fellowship at Kings College London. Her first book Making Peace, Making Riots: Communalism and Communal Violence, Bengal 1940-47 was published in 2018, in which she studied everyday processes of communal mobilizations and the impact of hunger and destitution during the Bengal Famine of 1943 on the growth of communalism in Bengal between 1943-47. The present talk is a part of her second book project, which attempts to understand ‘popular’ initiatives behind the Quit India Movement in Bengal between 1942-45.


All are welcome!



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The South Asia Seminar is co-funded by the Ashmolean Museum, the Asian Studies Centre of St Antony’s College, the Contemporary South Asian Studies Programme at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, the Department for International Development and Faculty of History and the Faculty of Oriental Studies.