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Sensing Violent, Haunted Pasts: 'Feeling' the Raped Woman of the Bangladesh War of 1971

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Title: Sensing Violent, Haunted Pasts: 'Feeling' the Raped Woman of the Bangladesh War of 1971
Authors: Mookherejee, Nayanika
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: University of Hawaii at Manoa Center for South Asian Studies
Citation: Mookherjee, Nayanika, "Sensing Violent, Haunted Pasts: 'Feeling' the Raped Woman of the Bangladesh War of 1971." Paper presented at the Center for South Asian Studies 30th Annual Symposium, "Sensing South Asia," Honolulu, April 17-19, 2013.
Abstract: This presentation seeks to ethnographically explore the affective aesthetics in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which is haunted by writings, memories and histories of sexual violence of the Bangladesh War of 1971. The formation of Bangladesh in 1971 coincided with the death of 3 million people and rape of 200,000 women (according to official and contested figures) in a span of nine months. After the war women were found in numerous schools, government buildings, army cantonments, bunkers situated in different parts of Dhaka, which had operated as 'rape camps' during the war. Soon after the war, the independent government of Bangladesh also set up Rehabilitation Centres for these women. At the same time, press and literary accounts reported the 'recovery' of women from different sites in Dhaka. The presentation seeks to identify the triangulation and circulation of accounts of sexual violence between these 'rape camps', rehabilitation centres, and press and literary accounts, which account for the haunting presence of the raped woman in these familiar and known sites when visited and revisited. The paper, thus, attempts to examine the affective encounters with the spaces of the displaced raped woman. In the process, it seeks to methodologically address the role of haunting in ascertaining the relation between the built environment of the city and sensory responses to it. Through this, the presentation hopes to provide a critical and gendered understanding of the politics of writing and memory in the context of sexual violence during the Bangladesh war and in relation to the built environment of the city. Alongside, the presentation also seeks to draw theoretically and methodologically on other ethnographic, comparative insights as to how one can sense irreconcilable, violent, haunted pasts.
Rights: Mookherjee, Nayanika
Appears in Collections:2013 South Asia Spring Symposium Presentations

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