The Landscape of Silence

Sexual Violence Against Men in War

August 2015 9781849042826 256pp


Why is it that men and boys have been and still are violated in human conflict, be it in conventional war, insurgencies or periods of civil and ethnic strife? Above all, why, throughout history, have victims, perpetrators and society as a whole refused to acknowledge this violation, and why do episodes of male-on-male rape and sexual abuse feature so rarely in accounts of war, be they official histories, eye-witness accounts or popular narratives? Is there more to this elision of memory than simply shame? Is there more to it than the victor’s desire to violate the enemy body?

Amalendu Misra’s startlingly original research into male sexual violence explores the meaning and role of the male body prior to its abuse and how it is altered by violation in wartime. He examines the bio-political contexts of conflict in which primarily men and occasionally women sexually violate men; he details the inadequate legal safeguards for survivors of such events; and in unearthing and analysing an ignored aspect of war, he inquires whether such violence can ever be deterred.

Table of contents

1. The Body

2. Biopower

3. In the Name of the Nation

4. The Torturer’s Soul

5. Legal Conundrum

6. Coming to Terms

7. Framing Solutions



‘Sexual violence against boys and men in times of armed conflict has too often been ignored or relegated to a dismissive footnote. Misra’s book changes everything. The effect of his vivid and forensic exploration of male-on-male sexual violence is stunning. This is a “must read” for anyone interested in rape, sexuality, violence and the vulnerable body.’ — Joanna Bourke, Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London, and author of Rape: A History from 1860 to the Present

‘Misra focuses squarely on a much-understudied form of gender-based violence: the sexual assault of men in war… Drawing attention to the exceptional nature and historicity of the sexual violence committed on men’s bodies, Misra presents a particularly unique volume which highlights the particular long-term consequences of such experiences and… rightfully points out… that the influence of religion, culture, and international law shapes how gender-based violence comes to be understood.’ — CHOICE

Landscapes of Silence is excellent. Lucid and theoretically rich, and drawing on evidence that spans historical, cultural and geographical space, the book is the first extended analysis of the rape of men in war. An important contribution to the literature of critical security studies, Misra’s book should be essential reading for any student or practitioner of war.’ — Karin Fierke, Professor of International Relations, St Andrews University, and author of Political Self Sacrifice: Agency, Body and Emotion in International Relations

‘Amalendu Misra’s terrific and important new book addresses a phenomenon that has been overlooked by scholars interested in gendered violence and war, in particular the question of male-on-male sexual assault. Misra addresses this stunning gap in the literature with an original theory that will be of interest to military historians, sociologists, political scientists and anthropologists, to say nothing of lay readers who have been led to believe, incorrectly, that sexual violence during war is exclusively about crime against women. This new book greatly enhanced my understanding of the phenomenon, and I believe it will be of similar value to other readers as well.’ — Aaron Belkin, Associate Professor of Political Science at San Francisco State University, Director of the Palm Center at the University of California, and author of Bring Me Men: Military Masculinity and the Benign Facade of American Empire


Amalendu Misra teaches at Lancaster University and the University of Anahuac, Mexico.  He is the author of Politics of Civil Wars, Afghanistan: The Labyrinth of Violence and Identity & Religion.

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