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Beyond Partition

Beyond Partition: Gender, Violence, and Representation in Postcolonial India

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Beyond Partition
    Book Description:

    In Beyond Partition , Deepti Misri shows how 1947 marked the beginning of a history of politicized animosity associated with the differing ideas of "India" held by communities and in regions on one hand, and by the political-military Indian state on the other. Assembling literary, historiographic, performative, and visual representations of gendered violence against men and women, she establishes that cultural expressions do not just follow violence but determine its very contours, and interrogates the gendered scripts underwriting the violence originating in the contested visions of what "India" means. Ambitious and ranging across disciplines, Beyond Partition offers both an overview of and nuanced new perspectives on the ways caste, identity, and class complicate representations of violence, and how such representations shape our understandings of both violence and of India.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09681-5
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)

    Shortly following the brutal gang rape of a young woman in New Delhi in the early days of 2013, Mohan Rao Bhagwat, the chief of the Hindu nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, noted, “Such crimes hardly take place in ‘Bharat,’ but they occur frequently in ‘India.’” He clarified: “You go to villages and forests of the country and there will be no such incidents of gang-rape or sex crimes. They are prevalent in some urban belts. Besides new legislation, Indian ethos and attitude towards women should be revisited in the context of ancient Indian values” (“Rapes Happen in India”). Riding...

  5. 1 Anatomy of a Riot: Vulnerable Male Bodies in Manto and Other Fictions
    (pp. 25-54)

    The two-line vignette above first appeared in 1948 inBlack Marginalia (Siyah Haashiye),a slim volume of thirty-two literary sketches penned by the well-known Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto.¹ Written even as the fires of Partition still burned, the sketches inBlack Marginaliaunwaveringly profiled the looting, arson, murder, religious defilement, and sexual violence that marked the violence of 1947, the double-edged moment of the Partition and Independence of India and Pakistan.² In “Invitation to Action,” the lone shop and its inviting sign may be read as embodying the ironic promise of the new nation-state—the only standing structure in...

  6. 2 The Violence of Memory: Women’s Re-narrations of the Partition
    (pp. 55-86)

    It is now a commonplace that in 1947, as Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh mobs fought one another in the violence of India’s Partition, women became, in the way that is typical of war, primary symbolic and literal targets of communal violence. Feminist historians of the Partition have noted the staggering range of sexual brutalities that Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh women suffered at the hands of rioting mobs during this time: “stripping; parading naked; mutilating and disfiguring; tattooing or branding the breasts and genitalia with triumphal slogans; amputating breasts; knifing open the womb; raping, of course; killing foetuses” (Menon and Bhasin,...

  7. 3 Atrocious Encounters: Caste Violence and State Violence
    (pp. 87-112)

    In September 2006 a mob of fifty to sixty caste Hindus in the Indian village of Khairlanji, Maharashtra, descended upon the home of the Dalit Bhotmange family. Dragging out the four family members present in the hut, the mob—armed with axes and stakes, and egged on by the exhortations of caste Hindu women—proceeded to rape, torture, parade naked, and finally murder forty-four-year-old Surekha Bhotmange and her nineteen-year-old daughter Priyanka.² Surekha’s two sons, Roshan (age 17) and Sudheer (age 18), were also murdered, their genitals crushed with stones after Roshan refused the mob’s bidding to have sex with his...

  8. 4 “Are You a Man?”: Performing Naked Protest in India
    (pp. 113-132)

    So speaks the raped tribal revolutionary Draupadi in the eponymous story by Bengali writer Mahasweta Devi. In the story’s conclusion, Draupadi refuses to put on her clothes after she has been taken into custody and then raped by soldiers of the Indian army. By refusing the disciplining power of shame scripted into the act of rape, Draupadi becomes, in the words of Mahasweta’s translator Gayatri Spivak, a “terrifying superobject” (Spivak 184). At the end of the story it is Senanayak, the army officer who has sanctioned her rape, who stands before the naked Draupadi—“an unarmed target”—in a state...

  9. 5 “This Is Not a Performance!”: Public Mourning and Visual Spectacle in Kashmir
    (pp. 133-160)

    The popular Kashmiri demand forazaadi(independence) presents one of the most pressing contemporary challenges to the idea of India. In recent years, this demand has been fueled by growing public awareness of the scale of indiscriminate torture and enforced disappearances of largely young Muslim men (an estimated eight thousand to ten thousand during the past two decades) by Indian security forces, on charges of anti-state militancy.¹ In this chapter, I want to consider how public understanding about these disappearances is being constructed through the efforts of Kashmiri activists, photographers, and artists. Today, the public mourning of the Association of...

  10. Epilogue: The Violence of the Oppressed
    (pp. 161-168)

    Throughout this book I have mapped the many forms of gendered violence generated by varied and often dissonant ideas of India—some widely understood as “gendered violence,” such as rape and reproductive violence; others less so, such as genital violence against men, deturbanning, and enforced disappearance. In uncovering the gendered scripts enabling such forms of violence against men, which in each of the above cases intersect with constructions of religious identity, I have presented these forms as also instances of “gendered violence,” seeking to correct the frequent conflation in academic, activist, and popular discourse of “gendered violence” with “violence against...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 169-184)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 185-194)
  13. Index
    (pp. 195-201)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 202-204)