The study has applied mainly qualitative tools of data collection. It is primarily based upon examination of existing literature, official documents and notes in the archives of the University of Dhaka to construct the history of this crucial period. The biographical and autobiographical writings of the freedom fighters have also been valuable data. Primary data have been generated by using both structured and open-ended interviews with selected military officers, who took part in the War of Independence. The study has also drawn upon unpublished diaries kept by key participants, as referred to in the bibliography, to provide unmediated narrative reconstructions of motivations and events.
For generating the primary data, several techniques have been adopted. Appropriate questionnaires were prepared for the selected respondents. These respondents were selected with care and caution given the sensitivity of the issue. The set of interview questions and list of interviewees are available in Appendix 9. The results of the field work are analyzed in Chapter Eight, although, some responses are noted in Chapter Seven. The notes and diaries of key military officers have also been used throughout the dissertation.
The researcher has had to confront the delicate issue of auto ethnography (Adler & Adler, 1994; Denzin, 1989; Kreiger, 1991) He was not only an observer but also an active participant in the war of Liberation. Auto ethnography is an auto biographical genre of writing and research that reveals multiple layers of consciousness. Auto ethnographers may have to look in two Directions, first through an ethnographic wide-angle lens, focusing outward on social and environmental aspects of their personal experience.’ Then, they turn inward to examine a vulnerable self even resist cultural influences (Deck, 1990; Neumann, 1996: Reed-Danahay, 1997). Auto ethnography or radical empiricism, as Jackson (1989) calls it, has been a vital part of the study in the sense that the ethnographer’s experiences and interactions with other participants form an important part of what is being studied (Ellis and Bochner, 1999: 733-742).
The term auto ethnography has been in use for quite some time. Emphasizing either on culture (ethos) or on self (auto), the researchers use their own experience in certain action to bend back on self and look more deeply at “self-other interactions” (Ellis and Bochner, 2000: 740). In personal narration, social scientists tame on the dual identities of academic and personal selves to put up auto biographical stories about some aspect of their experience. In reflexive ethnography, the researcher’s personal experience becomes important for its role to illuminate the culture under study. Feminism has contributed greatly to legitimize the autographical voice associated with reflexive ethnography (Behar 1996; Kreiger, 1991)
Distinguishing between ethnographic memoir and narrative ethnography, Tedlock (1991) has stated that while in a memoir ethnographer tells a personal tale of what went in the backstage of doing research, in narrative ethnography ethnographer’s experiences are incorporated into the description and analysis of others. In the latter case, “ethnographic dialogue or encounter” between the narrator and members of the group under study is emphasized. According to Tedlock, the development of this kind of reflexive writing is related to a shift from an emphasis on a participant observation to “observation of participation” and an exphasis on the process of writing.
The process has at least two advantages. In the first place, the ethnographer knows quite well what he has in mind as the focus of the study. Secondly, the ethnographer finds it convenient to interact with his partners or colleagues because they also know the details of the incident or event. It has however one big disadvantage. The fact or series of fact which the ethnographer wants to bring out through arduous process may be clouded by his personal idiosyncrasies or heightened emotional touches. The objectivity of the study may therefore suffer. Having this in view, the researcher has decided to use third person singular in the narration so that his self (auto) may not surface and darken the objectivity.
Much like Ellis and Bochner, this researcher feels that “the act of telling a personal story is a way of giving voice to experiences that are shrouded in secrecy” (1992: 79). Yet he has to tell a very personal story which became “a social process for making lived experiences understandable and meaningful” (Ellis and Bochner, 1992: 79-80). Caught up in the war, he was too engaged by what was happening to fully record his experiences at the time. Only later did he reconstruct the events that took place, including the emotional dimension of decision-making.
However, one advantage the researcher has had, a practice encouraged by his professional norms, was to write a diary even under difficult circumstances. Both the researcher and his colleagues in the war of liberation have become subjects in the inquiry that follows and his and their experiences are the primary data in this study (Jackson, 1989: 4). Drawing on diaries and brief notes on the happenings on those days recalling their experiences, and checking and re-checking through conversations, the researcher will lead his readers through a journey in which “they develop an ‘experiential sense’ of the events” (Krieger, 1984: 273; McCall, 1991)
The Eight other actors, who were selected for an in-depth interview, were the war-heroes, some of whom were sector commanders in the Liberation War of 1971. The process of interview was both time consuming and painstaking in the sense that prior appointments had to be made with each one of them and that too at their convenient time. Since all of them are persons of some social standing, the logistics of the research had to be very carefully arranged and including such necessary implements as tape-recorders and low intensity microphone so that statements could be faithfully recorded.
Prior to appointments, each respondent was informed of the detailed purpose of the interview so that they could be prepared with short notes, if necessary; the researcher did not know for sure how long the interview of one respondent might take. That is why he undertook one as a test case and that took two hours and twenty minutes. Having that experience in store, he made appointments with the rest of the respondents in their residence at a time convenient to them, especially in the evening so that they could give more than two hours at a stretch.
The Researcher himself being one of the active participants in the Liberation War din not know how the interview would go, because the respondents were required to respond to queries on issues of three decades ago. Moreover, he did not know how these respondents, most of whom have become activists of different political parties professing different action programmes, would interact with him. He was not sure whether the respondents would be relevant over some questions. He was also not sure whether he would be able to put the right questions. Having a lot of tensions, the researcher proceeded with care and caution. He felt confident because of the fact that there was a questionnaire already prepared for the purpose. The researcher feels happy that the scheduled interviews went on well. Working together at a crucial point of time in history, fighting hand in hand, and sharing the same views, the researcher has felt that all of them went back thirty long years, thus effacing all the distance which he had in him as a role player and an observer.
In most cases, while giving their views they consulted their diaries, because of the need to recollect correctly what they thought and did some three decades ago. Most of them remembered the events quite vividly; each one of them took their roles in the war as the high point of their lives.
While conducting the interviews, the researcher, because he himself was one of the key figures in the war, was able to engage with respondents on the key figures in the war, was able to engage with respondents on an equal footing, a matter of some importance given their relative eminence. Indeed Chapter Seven of the thesis has been drawn mainly on his personal experiences. The respondents agreed readily and co-operated with the researcher eagerly; but were inclined to give details of every episode in lengthy speeches. Overcome by a kind of nostalgic recollection they made long statements of some intensity. The researcher had to painstakingly glean from these materials relevant to the question of induction, but without compromising the narratives too much. For the purpose of the study, the researcher wanted them to be frank and free and express their opinions. The respondents were reminded through a number of questions that they fought for establishing a nation state under the leadership if political leaders at a time when the military in most of the Third World countries were busy capturing political power by displacing the political leaders. The comparative perspective has been analyzed in the following chapter.
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