Ethical Encounters is an exploration of the intersection of feminism, human rights, and memory to illuminate how visual practices of recollecting violent legacies in Bangladeshi cinema can conjure a global cinematic imagination for the advancement of humanity.
By examining contemporary, women-centered Muktijuddho cinema—features and documentaries that focus on the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971—Elora Chowdhury shows how these films imagine, disrupt, and reinscribe a gendered nationalist landscape of trauma, freedom, and agency. Chowdhury analyzes Bangladeshi feminist films including Meherjaan, and Itihaash Konna (Daughters of History), as well as socially-engaged films by activist-filmmakers including Jonmo Shathi (Born Together), and Shadhinota (A Certain Liberation), to show how war films of Bangladesh can generate possibilities for gender justice.
Chowdhury argues that justice-driven films are critical to understanding and negotiating the layered meanings and consequences of catastrophic human suffering yet at the same time they hint at subjectivities and identities that are not reducible to the politics of suffering. Rather, they are key to creating an alternative and disruptive archive of feminist knowledge—a sensitive witnessing, responsible spectatorship, and just responsibility across time, and space.
Drawing on Black and transnational feminist critiques, Chowdhury explores questions around women’s place, social roles, and modes of participation in war as well as the visual language through which they become legible as victims/subjects of violence and agents of the nation. Ethical Encounters illuminates the possibilities of film as a site to articulate an ethics that acknowledges a founding violence of the birth of a nation, recuperates it even if in fragments, and imagines differently the irreconcilable relationship between humanity, liberty, and justice.
Winner, 2015 USC Book Award in Literary and Cultural Studies, for outstanding monograph published on Russia, Eastern Europe or Eurasia in the fields of literary and cultural studies
The Ethics of Witnessing investigates the reactions of five important Polish diaristswriters—Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz, Maria Dabrowska, Aurelia Wylezynska, Zofia Nalkowska, and Stanislaw Rembek—during the period when the Nazis persecuted and murdered Warsaw’s Jewish population. The responses to the Holocaust of these prominent prewar authors extended from insistence on empathic interaction with victims to resentful detachment from Jewish suffering. Whereas some defied the dehumanization of the Jews and endeavored to maintain intersubjective relationships with the victims they attempted to rescue, others selfdeceptively evaded the Jewish plight. The Ethics of Witnessing examines the extent to which ideologies of humanism and nationalism informed the diarists’ perceptions, proposing that the reality of the Final Solution exposed the limits of both orientations and ultimately destroyed the ethical landscape shaped by the Enlightenment tradition, which promised the equality and fellowship of all human beings.
Bronka Schneider and her husband, Joseph, were two of the thirty thousand Austrian Jews admitted as refugees to Great Britain between March 1938 and 2 September 1939. It was not until 1960, however, that Schneider wrote her memoir about the year she spent as a housekeeper, with Joseph as a butler, in a Scottish castle.
Schneider tells of daily encounters—with her employers, the English lady and her husband, a retired British civil servant who had spent many years in India; the village locals; other refugees; and a family of evacuees from the slums of Glasgow.
The editors have divided this memoir into chapters, adding headlines from the London Times as epigraphs. These headlines, reporting the escalating events of World War II, are in stark contrast to daily activities of the residents of this isolated region of Scotland. A commentary by Erika Bourguignon provides historical, political, and cultural background of this period.
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