History and/through Oral Narratives: Relocating Women of the 1971 War of Bangladesh in Neelima Ibrahim’s A War Heroine, I Speak
Keywordsoral narratives; war narratives; Biranganas; 1971 Bangladesh war; gendered violence.
Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
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AbstractIn the postmodern era, one of the primary objectives of oral narratives is to tell the untold stories of history. Amidst the allegations that historical representation of war narratives, tend to be gendered and biased, these oral narratives of women offer not only a fresh perspective to the wars like the 1971 war of Bangladesh, the Sri Lankan Civil War (1983 – 2009) and the Kashmir Insurgency (1989 – present), but also become their own version of pain, suffering, prejudice, and plight. In that sense, they become the voice of the voiceless, giving the victims a chance to assert themselves, despite their subaltern position. They also converge as tools to reinvestigate or rather question the representation of war history and the politics of submerging women in traditional documented historiography. In the context of the 1971 war of Bangladesh, Neelima Ibrahim’s Aami Birangana Balchi (first published in Bengali in 1994, translated in English as A War Heroine, I Speak by Fayeza Hasanat in 2017), was the first narrative of its own kind that addressed victimization and survival of the Biranganas or literal brave heroines of the 1971 war. Ibrahim, being an active member of the humanitarian group ‘Bangladesh Women’s Rehabilitation and Welfare Foundation’ was a close observer of their struggle and thus, she recorded their narratives and published it. In a theoretical framework, where oral narratives play a seminal role in this sort of representations, this paper will broadly discuss Neelima Ibrahim’s narratives of Biranganas of the 1971 war of Bangladesh.