Education About Asia

Integrative Pedagogy: A Case Study of the Lasting Legacy of India’s Partition

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This article describes a case study from modern Indian history through the lens of “integrative pedagogy,” which is a way of teaching that challenges the tendency of many of our students to reduce, isolate, and oversimplify the myriad things of the world. This example of integrative pedagogy encourages students to think critically about historical context and make meaningful connections while engaging in “emotional and mental migration” to a region that has often been viewed in the West through such reductionist images.1

In my World Religions classes, students do an extended case study that connects India’s Partition in 1947 to the Mumbai attacks of 2008, two important events from modern Indian history that serve as the focus of this article. Near the end of the essay, I also offer possibilities for using integrative pedagogy with other India and South Asia-related topics and provide a brief explanation of how I’ve used the 9/11 attacks as a comparative integrative pedagogy case study.

Briefly, Partition refers to the division of India into the Dominion of Pakistan and the Union of India on August 15, 1947, marking the end of the ninety-year period of the Raj during which Britain had ruled India as a colony, starting right after the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857–1858.2 In that uprising, both Hindu and Muslim soldiers (sepoys), fought to end the rule of the British East India Company. Partition into predominantly Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan was a cataclysmic event in modern South Asian history whose aftershocks, such as the Mumbai attacks, reverberate in the present.


1. Ninian Smart, Religion and the Western Mind (New York: SUNY Press, 1987), 5.

2. In the 1971 Bangladesh War of Liberation, East Pakistan broke away from West Pakistan and became the independent country of Bangladesh.