Subversion of Colonial Masculinity and Manifestation of Gendered Nationalism in Letters of 1971 (Ekattorer Chithi)




masculinity, gendered nationalism, hegemonic discourse, Liberation War of 1971 View Full Text


Bengali males, in colonial hegemonic discourse, were projected as “weak” and “submissive” (Macaulay qtd. in Chowdhury 4; Banerjee 29; Ray 21). This tendency of feminizing colonized males was naturalized through the process of constant discursive practices by the end of the nineteenth century. This discourse, as has been demonstrated by different historiographies, had influenced the self-perception of the Bengalis to a large extent. However, the colonial resistance and nationalist movements proved to be a fruitful site for the Bengalis to counter the negative portrayal of their masculine selves (Chattopadhyay 271). Again, emerging nationalist discourses in anti-colonial movements in various parts of the world led to the concept of “gendered nationalism” whereby nation is signified as mother and its male citizen as the savior or protector of the “motherland” (Mayer; McClintock, qtd. in Banerjee 6). Consequently, the view that woman is to be seen as the preserver of the tradition and producer of the valiant male citizen got normalized in the discourse of nationalism. It is against this background that this paper aims to read Letters of 1971 (Ekattorer Chithi) – a collection of letters written during the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971 by the freedom fighters – as an endeavor to the historic legacy of reclaiming Bengali masculinity. Letters of 1971 unraveling the gallantry of the freedom fighters, and their decision of embracing martyrdom over defeat, engages a glaring instance of a counter-narrative of the colonial discourse of Bengali masculinity. Alongside, the narratives of Letters of 1971 will be seen, in this paper as participating in the discourse of gendering nationalism through its projection of the nation as mother who is in dire need of action from its valiant sons.




How to Cite

Dipa, S. P. (2022). Subversion of Colonial Masculinity and Manifestation of Gendered Nationalism in Letters of 1971 (Ekattorer Chithi). Crossings: A Journal of English Studies, 13(2), 27–41.