The Spectral Wound: Sexual Violence, Public Memories, and the Bangladesh War of 1971
“Imaging the War Heroine”: Examination of State, Press, Literary, Visual, and Human Rights Accounts, 1971-2001
2015. "“Imaging the War Heroine”: Examination of State, Press, Literary, Visual, and Human Rights Accounts, 1971-2001", The Spectral Wound: Sexual Violence, Public Memories, and the Bangladesh War of 1971, Nayanika Mookherjee
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This chapter explores the circulation and intertextuality of visual (photographs, films) literary (novels, poems), and human rights representations of birangonas from 1971 until 2001. It shows that these representations positively co-opted the birangona for the nation. But in the empirical domain, the reality of the raped woman was expressed by ambiguity and she could only be represented after being made to exit from the narrative. Also, the narratives creating the birangona were inherently gendered and classed. As a wound, the birangona is marked by physical signs in the 1970s and an absence of her signs of social belonging (i.e., family) marked her in the 1990s, the latter absence influencing national enactments and the documentation of rape by left-liberal activists. The chapter argues that these representations sedimented an image of the birangona and combed/searched for her as a horrific spectral wound while combing/hiding the intricacies of her life after the rape.