Bodies Across the Borders: Retracing the Memories of the Partition and Liberation War in South Asia
Drawing from the works of Sadat Hasan Manto, Urvashi Butalia, Nilima Ibrahim, and Nayanika Mookherjee this paper will seek to understand how femininity and the body is constructed during ethnic conflicts in South Asia. The partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 resulted in the redrawing of the borders between the newly independent states of India and Pakistan and the uprooting of 15 million people. In the wake of decolonization, violence erupted as the new boundaries rested on religious lines, marred with communal hatred. The similarity between the Indian partition and West Pakistan’s genocide against the Bengali speaking population of East Pakistan (present Bangladesh) was the use of rape and targeted sexual violence against women. It is interesting, however, decades after the partition, and the liberation war in the subcontinent the mainstream historical narratives fail to acknowledge the violence that women experienced. Silence, impunity and the lack of accountability for sexual violence together contribute towards dehumanizing women and their bodies in South Asia. Exploring such accounts of violence and trauma, this paper will seek to revisit the historical realities of partition, independence, and nation-building.
- Deeplina Banerjee, Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, University of Western Ontario