Anglo-Indian Immunity from Partition Violence


  • Dorothy McMenamin


This article is drawn from a wider research project delineating Anglo-Indian lives in Pakistan.* Anglo-Indians in that country reside amongst a predominantly Muslim population, compared to a Hindu majority in Independent India. Exploring this religious-cultural dimension exposed the non-discriminatory attitude of Muslims towards mixed race people, compared to the hierarchical exclusive ideals of caste Hindus.  It is argued this difference contributed to the higher social status of Anglo-Indians in Pakistan.  

A pivotal period of Anglo-Indian lives in newly created Pakistan was partition in August 1947. Inevitably family memories around this momentous time included stories of communal violence witnessed at close hand by Anglo-Indians. Despite providing havens of safety for locals at risk, this research shows that Anglo-Indians were not targeted by the rampant carnage. This immunity from cycles of violence is an important addition to the continuing search for narratives encompassing the complexity of partition events and, importantly, documents the hitherto unrecognized heroism of Anglo-Indians.


* This article is adapted from a chapter in the author’s book, Anglo-Indian Lives in Pakistan (2023), which was based on her PhD thesis. A doctoral scholarship enabling this research from the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, is acknowledged and greatly appreciated.