Vidhya’s Discursive Body: An Exploration into the Politics of Inclusion and Interpretation of Individual Experience

Dissanayake, A.K


The abduction, gang rape and murder of Vidhya Sivaloganathan, an eighteen-year-old schoolgirl in May 2015, in Jaffna, and the events that followed this atrocious crime are demonstrative of how the body and its performance/ experiences are acknowledged, read, and interpreted from within diverse discourses such as those of law, gender, race, power and gaze. These discourses act as frames of recognition which decide the inclusion or exclusion of individuals from recognition as bodies that are vulnerable. Vidhya’s bodily experiences too fall in and out of frames that serve to grant her recognition and politicize her personal experiences, space, and memory. This underscores how the meaning and importance given to the body cannot be created outside of these discourses, and how, interpretations made of the body via these discourses drain the body of any freewill, individuality, and agency. This article argues that, since meaning making of personal experience is dependent on such frameworks, more egalitarian frames of reference which would serve to minimize exclusion of bodies from further discussion, are in order.

Keywords: Discourse, frames of recognition, the body as text, personal as political, agency