Accepted paper:

The aesthetic process of imagination of Bangladesh and the politics of Bengali and indigenous Identity


Sayema Khatun (Jahangirnagar University)

Paper short abstract:

What is the aesthetic process of imagination creating collective identities in present day Bangladesh? How indigenous identity has been constructed aesthetically as the essential other of the Bengali self and how it has been contested, felt to be revealed through systematic inquiry in this paper.

Paper long abstract:

The Bengali nationalist movement s of '50 and '60 against internal colonial exploitation of Pakistan, demise of the dream of the separate independent state for the Muslim and the consequent liberation war of 1971 which Bangladesh has been created from and stands upon as a nation-state has not resolved the question of identity and its multiplicity. Rather, right after the independence, the construction of Bengali (Muslim) identity as hegemonic through the scholarly and artistic representation, underpin the oppressive governance of the society and state. The creation and recreation of it has been a continuous process through aesthetic and intellectual imagination interconnected with local and global politics. The resolution of the question of Identity has become far from the reality and repetitively comes out on the surface like a never healed, ever discharging sore of the body politic. The recent position of the Government on Adibashi identity has triggered out a fresh and multifaceted public debate. In the given context, I would like to explore the aesthetic imagination of 'Bengaliness' and 'indigenousness' in the artistic endeavors (i.e. literature, fine art form) and the politics of making indigenous identity as exotic and other of the Bengali self construction. How this artistic representation builds emotionally strong and psychologically embedded base of such collective identity repressive to the other, requires, I believe, disentangling in finer detail for understanding the politics of identity in present day Bangladesh. Considering the contemporary art and literature as heterogeneous site, I would like to make an effort to understand the contestation within it.

panel P35
Imagining Bangladesh and forty years of its aesthetic trajectory