Added: September 5, 2015 – Last updated: December 5, 2015


Author: Elora Halim Chowdhury

Title: When Love and Violence Meet

Subtitle: Women's Agency and Transformative Politics in Rubaiyat Hossain's Meherjaan

Journal: Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy

Volume: 30

Issue: 4

Year: Fall 2015 (Received: November 26, 2014, Revised: March 15, 2015, Accepted: March 26, 2015, Published online: August 10, 2015)

Pages: 760-777

ISSN: 0887-5367 – Find a Library: WordCat | eISSN: 1527-2001 – Find a Library: WordCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century, 21st Century | Asian History: Bangladeshi History, Pakistani History | Representations: Films / Meherjaan; Types: Wartime Rape / Bangladesh Liberation War



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Author: Elora Halim Chowdhury, Department of Women's and Gender Studies, University of Massachusetts at Boston

Abstract: »In official and unofficial histories, and in cultural memorializations of the 1971 war for Bangladeshi independence, the treatment of women's experiences—more specifically the unresolved question of acknowledgment of and accountability to birangonas, “war heroines” (or rape survivors)—has met with stunning silence or erasure, on the one hand, or with narratives of abject victimhood, on the other. By contrast, the film Meherjaan (2011) revolves around the stories of four women during and after the war, and most centrally the relationship between a Bengali woman and a Pakistani soldier. In this article, I investigate the anxieties underlying the responses to Meherjaan, particularly in association with themes of trauma—its absence or omnipresence—to nonnormative gender frames of national sexuality, and the notion of loving the Other. Drawing from feminist theories of vulnerability, ethics, and love, I want to explore these themes at two levels: the political message the film transmits, and its aesthetic choices and affects. Finally, I want to comment on the potential of this film, as feminist art, in furthering a dialogue around healing and ethical memorialization in relation to 1971 in Bangladesh.« (Source: Hypatia)


  Synopsis (p. 762)
  Trauma as Absent Present (p. 765)
  Gender, Sexuality, and the Collective Memory of the Nation (p. 768)
  Empathy, Responsibility, and Reconciliation (p. 771)
  Notes (p. 773)
  References (p. 775)

Lecture: Chowdhury, Elora H. »When Sex and Violence Meet: Women’s Agency and Transformative Politics in Rubaiyat Hossain’s Meherjaan.« Annual Meeting of the Law and Society Association. Boston 2013.

Wikipedia: History of Asia: History of Bangladesh, History of Pakistan | Representation (arts): Film / Meherjaan | Types of rape: Wartime sexual violence | War: Bangladesh Liberation War / Rape during the Bangladesh Liberation War