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Sexual violence in the Bangladeshi War of Independence - Global danger and the risk to research

Sexual violence in the Bangladeshi War of Independence. Laurie Taylor discusses the way in which the female victims were turned into national heroines. Also, global danger & risk.

Sexual violence in the Bangladeshi War of Independence. Laurie Taylor talks to Nayanika Mookherjee, Reader in Socio-Cultural Anthropology at Durham University, about the internationally unprecedented state designation of raped women as birangonas (brave women) in 1971. Her groundbreaking study was shortlisted for the 2016 BSA/Thinking Allowed Ethnography Award. She analysed the pubic memory or wartime rape perpetrated by the West Pakistani army and local Bengali men in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) during that conflict. This national commemoration of the women's suffering counters the assumption of silence and shame amongst victims of rape in war. But what did it mean to the women themselves? Has their elevation to the status of heroines ensured their integration into their communities and acceptance by their menfolk?

Also, Ruben Andersson, Associate Professor at Oxford University's Department of International Development, discusses the expansion of 'no go' areas of the world since 9/11. He argues that alleged regions of 'risk' are seen as posing a particular danger to Western states and citizens. How can ethnographers who, by definition, do not wish to observe from a distance, address this challenge to their research? Professor Andersson was the winner of the 2015 Ethnography Award for his study of clandestine migration on the borders of Europe.

Producer: Jayne Egerton.

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28 minutes

Last on

Mon 16 Jan 2017 00:15


Ruben Andersson at the University of Oxford 

Nayanika Mookherjee at the University of Durham


Nayanika Mookherjee, The Spectral Wound: Sexual Violence, Public Memories and the Bangladesh War of 1971 (Duke University Press, 2015)

Ruben Andersson's article, Here Be Dragons: Mapping an Ethnography of Global Danger, published in the journal, Current Anthropology, volume 57, no.6, December 2016


  • Wed 11 Jan 2017 16:00
  • Mon 16 Jan 2017 00:15

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