Art, Politics and the Environment in Bangladesh

Art, Politics and the Environment in Bangladesh

50 Years On

Edited by Nusrat S Chowdhury & Lotte Hoek

Diversity and Plurality in South Asia

‘Art, Politics and the Environment in Bangladesh’ features original research of a new generation of scholars of Bangladesh. The chapters collectively engage with many enduring topics of academic interest, such as violence, poverty, environment, development, democracy, religion and human rights from the vantage point of Bangladesh.

Hardback, 250 Pages


January 2021

£80.00, $125.00

  • About This Book
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About This Book

‘Art, Politics and the Environment in Bangladesh’ provides a guide to explore how shifting social and political realities of Bangladesh act as the bases of historical events and cultural processes that are neither self-evident nor complete. The essays trace these unfoldings from varied disciplinary perspectives. Consider, for instance, two case studies featured in the volume: the massive enthusiasm for staging local elections for villages that have disappeared owing to the movement of rivers or the resistance to the shrimping industry in areas disastrously poldered by previous Dutch development interventions. They help visualize the impact of the continuous rewriting and remaking – and at times erasure – of the spaces and histories of a region variously known as East Bengal, East Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The quandaries that colonial bureaucratic classifications pose for staging the boundaries of indigenous peoples in contemporary Bangladesh, or the politics of reception of the representations – both off and on stage – of the 1971 war, are examples of such ground-making.

On an analytical level, the book privileges the particular fecundity of staging as a political process. How do collective social imaginations act as the staging ground for collective movements and cultural forms? Answering this demands tracking the emergence, rather than the taken-for-grantedness, of experiences and categories. This is particularly relevant for a place like Bangladesh at once described in terms of a lack (no state, no infrastructure, no law and order, no money, no art and so on) and of debilitating excess (too much emotion, too much water, too much corruption, too much faith and so on). Such ideas have had concrete implications for national and foreign development interventions, state policies and religious exchanges that have created the political and geographical entity known as Bangladesh. This paradox demands that we rethink some of the central analytical categories of South Asian scholarship in light of what we know of Bangladesh and its conditions of possibility. In so doing, the book makes a case for studying Bangladesh for its ability to contribute to a larger intellectual field than South Asian studies.


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Author Information

Nusrat Sabina Chowdhury is an anthropologist who writes on popular sovereignty and political communication focusing on Bangladesh.

Lotte Hoek is a media anthropologist who writes about the politics and aesthetics of the moving image in South Asia, particularly in Bangladesh. She is the author ‘Cut-Pieces: Celluloid Obscenity and Popular Cinema in Bangladesh’ (2014) and editor of the journal, ‘BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies’.


Diversity and Plurality in South Asia

Table of Contents

Introduction, Lotte Hoek and Nusrat Sabena Chowdhury; 1. The Flow Forms of Elections on the Sand Bars of the Jamuna River, Naveeda Khan; 2. Aquacultural Disposessions: Shrimp, Land and Agrarian Politics in Coastal Bangladesh, Kasia Paprocki and Jason Cons; 3. ’They Went Directly into “Accident”’: Accidents, Crowds and Intimate Politics in Phulbari, Bangladesh, Nusrat Sabena Chowdhury; 4. Feminism and Nationalism in Cold War East Pakistan, Elora Shehabuddin; 5. Repeat Viewing: Plagiarising Film and the Responsibilities of Creativity in South Asia, Lotte Hoek; 6. Transnational Discourses of Indigeneity, the Nation-State and the Figure of the ‘Adivasi’ rights activist in Bangladesh, Mahmudul Sumon; 7. A Looking-Glass War: Two Films on 1971, Four Decades Apart, Naeem Mohaiemen; 8. Transmission and Transformation in the ‘Ever-Present’ of Bangladesh: From the ‘War Generation’ to the ‘Post-71 Generation’, Syed Jamil Ahmed; 9. Markets, Fields, Leaves: Tobacco Trails in Northern Bengal, Sahana Ghosh; Epilogue Across Generations: A Conversation, Dipesh Chakrabarty and Nazmul Sultan; Index.


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