The Spectral Wound: Sexual Violence, Public Memories, and the Bangladesh War of 1971
This chapter examines the silence of the Bangladeshi state and civil society on 1947/partition and juxtaposes it with the extensive memorialization and inherent contestations in the national celebrations of 1971/Muktijuddho (the Bangladesh Liberation War). It outlines the historical and political trajectory from 1947 until 2001. The chapter explores the role of the “dead and their double duties”: the father, the enumerative community of shoheeds (martyrs), and faceless birangonas. It argues that in Bangladesh, the state and civil society remember 1971 and historicize it by drawing on the tropes of kinship, genealogy, and family. It shows that the figure of Sheikh Mujib has become a “mnemotope”—a “place” around which memories and events of 1971 organize themselves. By highlighting the absent presence and public secrecy of 1947 in the 1971 historiography, the chapter attempts to highlight the various dynamics of this history making that influence the ethnography of wartime rape.