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The Grains of Experience

The Spectral Wound is one of the most sensitive, subtle, and thought-provoking anthropological texts on sexual violence in the context of war (Mookherjee 2015). I have already expressed my admiration in the foreword to the book for its nuanced rendering of the interplay between the national imperative to memorialize, the desire for justice on the part of human rights advocacy …

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Time of the Writing, the Hour of Reading

[Editor’s note: This essay was originally published in Economic & Political Weekly (February 13, 2016) and is expanded from a public discussion organized by Dina Siddiqi and Seuty Sabur of BRAC University, Dhaka.]

Nayanika Mookherjee acknowledges that The Spectral Wound has taken “a long time” (xxi) to write. She narrates the early morning “thought struggle,” as well as the ethical …

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On Counting

I am very pleased to be invited by Andrew Brandel to discuss Professor Nayanika Mookherjee’s recently published book The Spectral Wound: Sexual Violence, Public Memories, and the Bangladesh War of 1971. Mookherjee’s courageous book tells of the fate of women who were raped during the 9-month military crackdown by West Pakistan on the then East Pakistan, renamed Bangladesh after …

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The Performance of Public Secrets in The Spectral Wound

Focusing on the figure of the birangona (war heroine) Nayanika Mookherjee’s The Spectral Wound explores tensions inherent in national public efforts to acknowledge widespread sexual assault of Bangladeshi women by Pakistani soldiers during the war of 1971. The term birangona was bestowed on women to birth a national discourse that would openly honor, rather than shamefully hide away, these victims …

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Communicating Violence: Reviewing The Spectral Wound

The Spectral Wound is an ethically complex text to which to respond. Particularly for a left-liberal academic type who is far removed from the events discussed in the book and the individual women and men described in the text (an academic type like myself, for instance), it is intellectually and morally presumptuous to comment on the experience of people who …

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Interiorities of Memory

The newly formed Bangladesh declared all women who were raped during its 1971 war of independence, birangonas or war heroines. This declaration that coincided with collective declamations of national independence also effectively located the birangonas as a specter that could be recalled, reassessed, and re-covered both in the immediate aftermath of the war and its repeated invocation at different moments …

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