Using field data from Eritrea and Sudan, Hale’s essay interprets women’s political memory work in contemporary conflict situations as forms of resistance. Few approaches are more epistemologically generative in analyzing conflict than the politics of memory in which, by recounting conflict situations through various renderings, those engaged try to override, cancel out, and morally supersede their adversaries’ renditions. People try to colonize each other’s pasts, and men try to colonize women’s versions of conflicts. Some strategies for colonizing the memory of violent conflicts involve annihilating culture; dislocating people from their homeland; and trying to shape and control the lives, bodies, and voices of women. In various Sudanese and Eritrean conflict situations, not only do competing ethnic groups and people with differing modes of economy remember their encounters differently, so do women and men. During conflict situations, men may try to recapture stories of the homeland through the bodies of women, a provocative process that sometimes leads to gender-based violence (e.g., Darfur, Sudan) or, by contrast, to gender-blind ideology (e.g., in Eritrea). By substituting their own poetics, women resist a biopolitics in which their bodies are used as a symbolic means of dramatizing conflicts. They have had to replace the everyday, for now, with a politics, polemics, and poetry that allows them to resist.
Research Article|August 01 2012
Sondra Hale; Memory Work as Resistance: Eritrean and Sudanese Women in Conflict Zones. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 August 2012; 32 (2): 429–436. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-1629025
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