Between the Human, the Citizen and the Tribal


Bora, Papori. 2010. “Between the Human, the Citizen and the Tribal.” International Feminist Journal Of Politics 12 (3): 341-60.

Author: Bora Papori


On 15 July 2004, a public protest was staged in the state of Manipur, in India's Northeast, to oppose the rape and custodial killing of a young Meitei woman, Thangjam Manorama, by soldiers of a counter-insurgency paramilitary battalion, the Assam Rifles, who suspected she was a militant. At this protest, several women appeared nude, holding a banner that read 'Indian army rape us'. This analysis considers how we might read the nudity and the statement 'Indian army rape us'. I argue that the language of law, human rights and women's rights as human rights, are inadequate to analyze the protest and the events surrounding it because they do not situate the protest within larger political struggles in the Northeast. Further, such universalist approaches take categories like 'Indian citizen', 'woman' and 'tribal' as a given and do not allow for an engagement with how these categories are mutually constituted, or the law's complicity in their constitution. Accordingly, concerns about contested notions of citizenship that are at the heart of the Manipur protest cannot be adequately addressed within this framework. Instead, I suggest a postcolonial feminist analytics as an alternative means to engage with the political questions raised by the protest.

Keywords: women and political participation in India, rape as a weapon of war

Topics: Armed Conflict, Citizenship, Democracy / Democratization, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gender-Based Violence, Governance, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Paramilitaries, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, Rape, SV against Women, Tribe, Violence Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2010

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