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In 1940s India, revolutionary and nationalistic feeling surged against colonial subjecthood and imperial war. Two-and-a-half million men from undivided India served the British during the Second World War, while three million civilians were killed by the war-induced Bengal Famine, and Indian National Army soldiers fought against the British for Indian independence.

This talk uses the lens of emotions as a way of unearthing these troubled and contested experiences, exposing the personal as political. It draws upon photographs, letters and memoirs to recover the complex spectrum of emotions felt by Indians in service and at home during the war. Seen through Indian eyes, this conflict no longer remains the ‘good’ war.

Speaker biography:

Educated at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India as well as the University of Cambridge and King's College London, Dr Diya Gupta is a literary and cultural historian, and Lecturer in Public History at City, University of London. Formerly a Past and Present Postdoctoral Fellow at the Royal Historical Society and Institute of Historical Research, she takes multilingual approaches to life-writing, visual culture and literature, in relation to war. Her first book, India in the Second World War: An Emotional History (Hurst and Oxford University Press) was published in May 2023.

Event details

Dockrill Room
King's Building
Strand Campus, Strand, London, WC2R 2LS