Bardi, Ariel Sophia. Cleansing, Constructing, and Curating the State: India/Pakistan ’47 and Israel/Palestine ’48 , PhD Dissertation, Yale University, 2015.
This dissertation looks at the ways in which the landscape and the built environment have been called upon and transformed into conduits of national belonging, focusing on the near-simultaneous emergences of Israel, India, and Pakistan. It considers the role of space in consolidating new national bodies, drawing on a variety of texts from both regions: memoirs, films, archival and field photos, housing plans, and the architectural landscape itself.
The first chapter explores the Jewish and Indian Muslim bids for sovereign lands along with the rise of Hindu nationalism. Looking at the founding of Pakistan and Israel, it considers the self-replicative logic of partition and the emergence of the homeland state. Arguing for the importance of image and space in conjuring new nationhoods, the second chapter compares systems of spatial control, visual regimes that mounted and imposed new national imaginaries. In India, Pakistan, and Israel/Palestine, selective acts of destruction transformed formerly shared spaces, inflecting the landscape with three distinct new states.
The third chapter looks at post-state refugee rehabilitation projects, focusing specifically on Mizrahi, or Arab Jewish, immigration to the Israeli hinterlands, and Mizrahi, or Indian refugee, resettlement within the Pakistani province of Sindh. In both regions, housing projects re-circumscribed place of origin, challenging the purported unity of each religiously pooled state and relegating refugees to the margins of each new nation. Tracing the relationship between architecture and partition, it considers the different modalities bound up in the process of national absorption. The fourth chapter compares historical preservation projects in India, Pakistan, Israel, and Palestine, and examines the role of heritage sites in visualizing statehood and homogenizing mixed spaces. Considering the furor over India’s Babri Masjid, it posits preservation as a corollary to demolition, and examines a selection of heritage locations in Israel and Pakistan while arguing for the uses of the past in upholding majority collectivities. Finally, the conclusion considers the afterlives of partition in places such as Kashmir, the West Bank, and India’s far northeast, in ongoing occupations that are as visual and spatial as they are material, economic, and political.