Accepted paper:

Habeas corpus: performing the indigenous woman body as a symbol of r/esistance against injustice in Bangladesh.

Author:

Mara Matta (University of Rome 'La Sapienza')

Paper short abstract:

It has been more than twenty years since Bangladesh State has turned Kalpana Chakma into a 'ghost'. However, her presence and her voice have never faded. This paper looks at the creative strategies employed by indigenous artists and filmmakers for 'resurrecting' her body and reclaiming justice.

Paper long abstract:

During the last few decades, Bangladesh has witnessed an increase number of forced disappearances and human rights abuses against the indigenous people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Starting from the powerful notes left by Kalpana Chakma in her Diary before being forcefully disappeared on 12 June 1996, the indigenous women of Bangladesh have continuously raised their voices against disenfranchisement, induced poverty and progressive annihilation of political and cultural rights. Deploying their life stories to contradict and talk back to History, indigenous women have committed themselves to the fulfillment of dreams of justice and have employed cultural practices as powerful tools of dissent. However, when they are subjected to silence through torture, rape and death, voicing "silence" and marking "absence" may become important strategies to perform defiance and to fight against politics of (in)visibility. In this fearful scenario, Kalpana's words and her never retrieved body have become a powerful manifesto for the rights and struggles of the Jumma people of Bangladesh.

This paper looks at the creative strategies employed by indigenous artists and filmmakers in Bangladesh for resurrecting hope, often by recasting the invisible (but never absent) body of Kalpana Chakma into a haunting presence. It has been more than twenty years since the Army and the State of Bangladesh have turned Kalpana into a 'ghost'. However, her body and her voice have never faded and her words and legacy have become the rebellious call for justice of the indigenous people of Bangladesh.

panel Body04
Indigenous imaginations: creative bodies and embodied resistance