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Muscular NationalismGender, Violence, and Empire in India and Ireland, 1914-2004$
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Sikata Banerjee

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814789766

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814789766.001.0001

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Who Is a Proper Woman in the Nation?

Who Is a Proper Woman in the Nation?

Femininity in the Roop Kanwar Immolation and the 2004 Irish Citizenship Referendum

(p.133) 5 Who Is a Proper Woman in the Nation?
Muscular Nationalism

Sikata Banerjee

NYU Press

This chapter presents the accounts of Roop Kanwar, an eighteen-year-old widow, who was burnt to death on the funeral pyre of her husband, as well as the citizens of the Republic of Ireland who voted overwhelmingly in favor of a referendum restricting Irish citizenship. The two events drew on common notions of women's role as border guards in postcolonial muscular nationalism. Kanwar's immolation unfolded in the context of a muscular nationalism that fused the concept of a Hindu India with armed masculinity. These combined notions considered feminine virtue as embodied best by high-caste women like Kanwar. Meanwhile, the public discussions leading up to the 2004 citizenship referendum in the Republic of Ireland unfolded in a political context that had seemingly moved away from Pearsian muscular nationalism. This legacy shaped debates that constructed the fertile female black body as a symbol of threat to the Irish nation.

Keywords:   Roop Kanwar, postcolonial muscular nationalism, Irish citizenship, armed masculinity, citizenship referendum

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