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Abstract

The year 1971 symbolizes an episode of a bloodbath in the history of South Asia. Popularly known as the ‘muktijuddho’, the liberation war of 1971 resulted in the creation of the independent nation of Bangladesh. The history of the liberation war has been extensively documented, and the nation's collective memory is filled with tales of heroism displayed by hundreds of thousands of ‘muktijoddhas’ (freedom fighters). However, such a masculine, selective memorialization of the war escapes women's memories from across communities in Bangladesh, who were significant partakers in the liberation struggle. The lived experiences of the women, who not only suffered the brutalities of the war but were silenced in the years after the nation emerged victorious, remain obscured from the collective memory of the liberation war. Therefore, this research paper aims to revisit the liberation war to comprehend women's experiences of the war and their post-war lives. The paper engages with the idea that nations preserve specific memories of their traumatic past, thereby silencing others. The paper follows an exploratory method, looking into the complexities of the gendered understandings of the collective memory that the nation has upheld, and the systematic silencing of women’s experiences in the post-war decades.

Note on the Author

Steffi Sarah Deb is a Research Scholar, Centre for South Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. She is pursuing PhD and is a Senior Research Fellow at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. She is currently working on her PhD thesis which focuses on collective memory, gender justice, and reconciliation in post-liberation Bangladesh. Her other areas of interest include religious minorities and persecution in South Asia, the politics of communal violence in India. She has presented her work on notable platforms addressing women and gender issues, including the December 2019 Conference organized by the Chair of United Nations Studies in Peace and Justice, Leiden University, The Netherlands. She can be reached at her email: steffideb04@gmail.com

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