Nationbuilding, Gender and War Crimes in South Asia
By Bina D’Costa
Routledge – 2011 – 256 pages
This book gives a detailed political analysis of nationbuilding processes and how these are closely linked to statebuilding and to issues of war crime, gender and sexuality, and marginalization of minority groups.
With a focus on the Indian subcontinent, the author demonstrates how the state itself is involved in the construction of a gendered identity, and how control of women and their sexuality is central to the nationbuilding project. She applies a critical feminist approach to two major conflicts in the Indian subcontinent – the Partition of India in 1947 and the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971 – and offers suggestions for addressing historical injustices and war crimes in the context of modern Bangladesh. Addressing how the social and political elites were able to construct and legitimize a history of the state that ignored these issues, the author suggests a critical re-examination of the national narrative of the creation of Bangladesh which takes into account the rise of Islamic rights and their alleged involvement in war crimes.
Looking at the impact that notions of nation-state and nationalism have on women from a critical feminist perspective, the book will be an important addition to the literature on gender studies, international relations and South Asian politics.
"This is an important book: the recovery of women’s silenced accounts and the analysis of their marginalization through an analysis of gender relations and through the politics of nation building, offer important contributions to our fuller understanding." - Purna Sen, London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom; Pacific Affairs: Volume 85, No. 3 – September 2012
Introduction 1. The Politics of Nationalism and Nationbuilding 2. 1947: From Partition to Creation 3. 1971: Politics of Silence, or Refusal to Remember? 4. Gendered Nationbuilding 5. Frozen in Time? War Crimes, Justice and Political Forgiveness 6. Partnership with Transnational Networks for Gender-Sensitive Justice Mechanism. Conclusion
Bina D’Costa is a research fellow at the Center for International Governance and Justice, Regulatory Institutions Network and the Convener of the Security Analysis program at the Australian National University. She is the co-editor of Gender and Global Politics in the Asia-Pacific (2009).