The geopolitical history of India’s Northeast replicates the history of the struggle of the ethnic communities living along what is often referred to as a “troubled periphery.” The fictionalised stories produced in this region, therefore, often betray the wounds inflicted on people living in this contested territory. As such, the history of this place and the story of its people lose their distinctions, allowing ethnographic study and the fluidity of personal narrative to converge and inform each other. Malsawmi Jacob’s Zorami (2018) encapsulates this history of strife and contestation through emphasizing a double significance in the eponymous character symbolising both land and women’s bodies in a conflict zone. While women very often become the target of state forces during conflict as seen in Zorami, this article aims to read the defilement of women’s bodies by an invasive power as a war strategy to discipline communities and territories. Drawing from Susan Brownmiller’s idea of rape as an attack on the body politics and Foucault’s idea of disciplining the body and soul, this article conflates war with rape to argue that both these invasive weapons are symbolic of patriarchy on one hand, and the victim’s body as a site of conquest on the other hand. Like the history of a territory is written and rewritten by successive conquering forces, the stories of atrocities on women also undergo a similar process. The article further underscores that the victim’s body is denied agency as it goes through a process of erasure, where written records or memory of the perpetration exist only in the lived memory of the victim. For the contesting powers, however, such perpetration is only a matter of defeat or conquest, thereby precluding the physical traumatic experience. Taking a New Historicist approach, this article will substantiate its arguments by referring to archival materials, non-fictional works, and other historical sources available on Zorami.
Biswas, Debajyoti and Khiangte, Zothanchhingi
"Of Contested Landscapes and Women’s Bodies: Rape as an Invasive Weapon in Malsawmi Jacob’s Zorami,"
Journal of International Women's Studies: Vol. 24:
6, Article 3.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol24/iss6/3