Added: January 3, 2015 – Last updated: December 5, 2015


Speaker: Elora Halim Chowdhury

Title: When Sex and Violence Meet

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

Conference: Annual Meeting of the Law and Society Association: Power, Privilege, and the Pursuit of Justice: Legal Challenges in Precarious Times (May 30 - June 2, 2013)

Session: Emergencies/Emergences: Mass Violence, Impunity, and Impasse

Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Date: June 1, 2013

Language: English

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


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

Abstract: »Feminist efforts to seek legal reparation and justice for the mass survivors of wartime rape, and the Bangladesh War Crimes Tribunal set up in 2010 to investigate war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity during the 1971 war form the backdrop for Rubaiyat Hossain’s controversial film, Meherjaan (2011). In official and unofficial histories of the 1971 war for Bangladesh's independence, the treatment of women’s experiences – more specifically the unresolved question of acknowledgment of and accountability to birangonas, "war heroines" (or rape survivors) have met with stunning silence or erasure on the one hand, or with narratives of abject victimhood, on the other. By contrast, the film Meherjaan revolves around the stories of four women during the war, and most centrally the relationship between a Bengali woman and a Pakistani soldier. In this paper, I investigate the anxieties underlying the responses to Meherjaan, particularly in association to themes of trauma – its absence or omnipresence - and to non-normative gender frames of national sexuality. I want to explore these themes at two levels: the political message the film transmits (unwittingly or not) with regard to ongoing efforts at restorative justice, and the film's aesthetic choices and effects.« (Source: All Academic)

Publication: Chowdhury, Elora H. »When Love and Violence Meet: Women's Agency and Transformative Politics in Rubaiyat Hossain's MeherjaanHypatia 30 (2015): 760-777.

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