Muscular Nationalism

Muscular Nationalism

Gender, Violence, and Empire in India and Ireland, 1914-2004

Gender and Political Violence

by Sikata Banerjee

Published by: NYU Press

217 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in

  • Hardcover
  • ISBN: 9780814789766
  • Published: April 2012



A particular dark triumph of modern nationalism has been its
ability to persuade citizens to sacrifice their lives for a political vision
forged by emotional ties to a common identity. Both men and women can respond to nationalistic calls to fight that
portray muscular warriors defending their nation against an easily recognizable
enemy. This “us versus them” mentality can be seen in sectarian violence
between Hindus and Muslims, Tamils and Sinhalas, Serbs and Kosovars, and
Protestants and Catholics. In Muscular
Nationalism, Sikata Banerjee takes a comparative look at India
and Ireland and
the relationship among gender, violence, and nationalism. Exploring key texts
and events from 1914-2004, Banerjee explores how women negotiate “muscular
nationalisms” as they seek to be recognized as legitimate nationalists and
equal stakeholders in their national struggles.

Banerjee argues that the gendered manner in which dominant
nationalism has been imagined in most states in the world has had important
implications for women’s lived experiences. Drawing on a specific intersection of gender and nationalism, she
discusses the manner in which women negotiate a political and social terrain
infused with a masculinized dream of nation-building. India and Ireland—two states shaped by the
legacy of British imperialism and forced to deal with modern political/social
conflict centering on competing nationalisms—provide two provocative case
studies that illuminate the complex interaction between gender and nation.