Using exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen's novel Lajja (Shame), this essay addresses questions of the articulation of a vulnerable masculinity in the political arena. It contends that in South Asia the field of sectarian politics has become the site for asserting masculinity and also the site for the making and unmaking of citizenship. Tracking the production of minority citizenship and national belonging, this essay examines how Nasreen alerts us to the way in which forces of violence during a political crisis take as their favored expression the masculine assertion of will and capacity to violate, mutilate, and deform the bodies of the vulnerable; in this case, of vulnerable men. That this takes place in ways quite similar to the oppression of women opens up a range of questions about the pathological constitution of gender, desire, and even sensuality and materiality more generally. The essay analyzes how the minority man's experience of heteronomy and helplessness congeals in him a feeling of emasculation, which he, in turn, tries to overcome by performing violence over a subject even more vulnerable than himself. Thus, the essay argues that in order to force himself into reconciling with a brutal world, the minority man reconstitutes himself as a sadomasochistic, pathological subject who enacts violence upon himself and his dependents.
Research Article|September 01 2011
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Debali Mookerjea-Leonard; Masculinity in Crisis: Nasreen's Lajja and the Minority Man in Postcolonial South Asia. Social Text 1 September 2011; 29 (3 (108)): 31–49. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-1299956
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