Footprints and futures of ethnographies on sexual violence during conflict
Nayanika Mookherjee (Durham University)
Science Site/Engineering E005
Start time:
6 July, 2016 at 11:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel explores the politics of documenting experiences of sexual violence during conflict situations. Through the perspective of historical and political anthropology it critically addresses the use of collective memory and the imbrication of 'agency' with time in these 'testimonial cultures.'

Long abstract:

This panel seeks to examine the processes through which sexual violence during conflicts is documented, in the context of post-conflict reparative work, performed at individual and collective levels, through the configurations in kinship, politics, time, memory and law. The panel seeks to move beyond 'the dominant and limited lens of silence, voice, shame, honour, gender, patriarchy, stigma, and ostracisation through which sexual violence is commonly understood. These categories also ensure a self-evident givenness and familiar comprehension about sexual violence enabling in the process a narrative closure' (Mookherjee 2015). Through the documentation of rape testimonies, experts acquire a narrative license to give 'voice', 'break the silence' and give 'agency' to the survivors which would apparently enable closure of their violent past and heal their futures. The panel seeks to map how bereft of historical political-economic contextualization, the prevalent understandings of sexual violence in post-conflict settings may veil past and present relations of power and powerlessness through the hierarchies of race, class, gender/sexuality, generations, religion, professions and visual economies which enables the framing of the raped. Instead the panel suggests new ways of thinking about sexual violence during conflict following recent ethnographies to interrogate how 'the everyday forms the future horizon' (Mulla 2014:30) in instances of sexual violence. Mookherjee, Nayanika 2015. The Spectral Wound. Sexual Violence, Public Memories and the Bangladesh War of 1971. Foreword by Veena Das. Duke UP. Mulla, Sameena. 2014. The Violence of Care: Rape Victims, Forensic Nurses and Sexual Assault Intervention. NY: NYU Press.