Today, I begin with a confession. I am an MCU simp. I greedily consume everything they offer – the good, the bad, the ugly, and the downright problematic. Yes, I know that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is ultimately another cog in the American propaganda machine, but I can’t help it.
This week, I watched the second episode of Ms. Marvel, which tells the story of Kamala Khan, a Pakistani American teenager who discovers she has powers. Although I’m weary of the hype surrounding BIPOC “representation” on American TV, I won’t deny that I got a kick out of hearing SRK movies being namedropped on an MCU show.
But the scene that made me sit up came a little later. Kamala’s family was at the dinner table, and her father was telling her brother’s fiancée about their family’s history. “My family has been in Karachi for generations”, he said, “Muneeba’s family moved to Karachi only after the Partition.”
Partition, perhaps the deepest scar on the body of the Indian subcontinent, was being discussed on an MCU show. Not only that, it would turn out to be a key element to Kamala’s story. (spoiler alert!)
I wouldn’t be overly hopeful – I don’t expect global audiences to suddenly develop a keen interest in the history and continuing effects of the event that killed over 200,000 people and displaced more than 10 million. But for those whose curiosity may have been piqued, the 1947 Partition Archive offers a deeply humane insight into the lives overturned by this man-made tragedy. This crowdsourced, community-based archive contains more than 10,200 oral testimonies from witnesses, recorded in more than 36 languages across 14 countries.
As Kamala’s brother puts it, “Every family has a Partition story”. These stories live on through the archive, reminding us of the brutal cost we paid and continue to pay for breeding hate and division.
P.S. If you have a story to share about your family’s experience during the Partition, write back to me.