Archives of Contemporary India

Supported by HDFC LTD.

Ritu Menon Partition Archive

Ritu Menon Partition Archive

"Feminist publishing worldwide is a development activity. It is not just about producing books. It is part of a huge enterprise. Apart from the women’s movement and the women’s studies movement, which happened across the world at the same time, we had the women in print movement. It was made up of a few publishers but also had women librarians, reviewers, designers, printers, binders, bookstore owners, and of course, writers and readers."

Ritu Menon (born 1949) is a pioneer in the women’s movement in India and South Asia. She co-founded along with Urvashi Bhutalia India’s first exclusively feminist publishing house, Kali for Women in 1984. Later, she independently founded Women Unlimited, another feminist publishing house.

She has written extensively on the ideas of gender and how it operates in religion, sites of violence, armed conflicts and other societal spaces. For her contribution to literature and education, she was awarded the Padma Shri (jointly with Urvashi Bhutalia) in 2011.

Ritu Menon has authored Borders & Boundaries: Women in India's Partition (1998), Unequal Citizens: A Study of Muslim Women in India (2004), Educating Muslim Girls: A Comparison of Five Indian Cities (2005), Out of Line (2014), Address Book: A Publishing Memoir in the time of Covid (2021), Zohra!: A Biography in Four Acts (2021), and co-edited In a Minority: Essays on Muslim Women in India (2005). She has also edited No Woman's Land: Women from Pakistan, India & Bangladesh (2004) and several anthologies of stories by Indian women.

About the Collection: The collection contains Ritu Menon’s Partition Archives comprising very rare and invaluable recording of interviews conducted in India and Pakistan of the women affected by partition. Besides, there are articles on cartographies of nations and identities, rehabilitation of women and children, transfer of population and evacuation organization, communalism and nationalism; and her diaries and handwritten notes. The papers provide new data and analyses and a broader perspective on major themes affecting women’s issues—gender identity, caste & class, race & ethnicity, religion, and multiculturalism that have a significant impact on society. The collection is important for the study of feminist movement in India and South Asia and adds a critical context to social science academia.

Donor: Ritu Menon
Acquisition: 2017