The 2022 Council for Museum Anthropology Book Award has been awarded to Aanchal Malhotra, for her debut Remnants of Partition: 21 Objects from a Continent Divided (published in India by Harper Collins as Remnants of a Separation: A History of the Partition Through Material Memory).

The book won the award for its “immense potential” to influence museum anthropology in its methodology, grace of narration, and participant-centred analysis. A product of fieldwork conducted as part of an MFA, Remnants of Partition is based on interviews with survivors of the violence and trauma from the Partition of 1947. Forced to flee, dismembered from family and social networks, the lives of millions unutterably changed overnight.

Malhotra’s interviewees reflect decades later on their experiences and survival through the possessions they brought with them – or sometimes didn’t. Her detailed and reflexive technique based on oral history coupled with an ethnographic narrative allows the reader to empathise with the pain of these unknown millions. The interviewees come from both sides of the border and accounts of both men and women have been documented.

Malhotra shows a keen concern for detail – such as languages spoken, family members present and their interactions during interviews, setting and mood (as well as her own responses to the stories) – to create a strong moral and ethical underpinning in a book whose focus is on the materiality and sociality of violence.

The committee at the 2022 Council for Museum Anthropology Book Award said that the book “is a model for significant contributions to museum anthropology.”