AAA/CASCA Executive Program Committee
Executive Session - Oral Presentation Session
This paper seeks to make a case for developing Irreconciliation as a concept in and of itself rather than through its opposition to peace. It seeks to do so by critically interrogating with the framework of reconciliation and ethnographically (through the debates on the genocidal events of the Bangladesh war of 1971) and comparatively exploring the relationship between aesthetic objects and their contribution to the processes of reconciliation and irreconciliation. The term reconciliation is a contested phrase in Bangladesh and is often associated with those who are deemed to have collaborated with Pakistani army to inflict death and violation during the war of 71. A War Crimes Tribunal set up in 2009 has till date executed over dozen men (mostly of the Jamaat-e-Islami) who are deemed to have been collaborated with the Pakistani army and enabled it to kill and rape East Pakistanis/Bangladeshis. Critiqued by the international community for not being fair and transparent the Tribunal and its executions have a lot of support among Bangladeshis and 86% support its implementation. Alongside the tribunal, various aesthetic practices have continued to interrogate the nationalistic underpinnings of the tribunal. Overall, the paper juxtaposes the various artistic languages of war with the legal language relating to war crime tribunals, apology, forgiveness, death penalty and reconciliation. The paper argues that aesthetic practices are able to critically highlight the nodes of irreconciliation which are distinctive from the juridical realm as the latter has come to stand in for acts of retribution.