ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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End of the Postcolonial State

Much of the scholarship on Bangladesh’s founding places it within a narrative of repetition. It either repeats the partitions of 1905 or 1947 or the creation of India and Pakistan as postcolonial states. This paper argues instead for the novelty of Bangladesh’s creation against the postcolonial state, suggesting that it opened up a new history at the global level in which decolonisation was replaced by civil war as the founding narrative for new states.

Beyond the Break with the Past

In the 1940s, Bengali Muslim intellectuals sought to find a new autonomy in a comprehensive break with the texts and language of the Hindu-dominated literature of the “Bengal Renaissance.” But within a few years of Pakistan’s founding, a new generation argued that disavowing the past was not...

Collision amid Collusion and Cooperation

This paper examines the history of largely understudied women’s rights activists in the early years of East Pakistan. While they collided with West Pakistani activists—and the central state—on matters of culture, identity, and political and economic issues, they actively cooperated with West Pakistani counterparts to fight gender discrimination and to demand reform in women’s rights from the state.

Dhaka 1969

A reading of 1969, the momentous year of protests against Ayub Khan’s dictatorship in East Pakistan is offered, going beyond the popular tropes of inevitability and loss. The moments when Bengali nationalism exceeded its own expectations by making michhil or procession its main focus are identified. A rumination on Dhaka, which found its present cultural and political identity through the upheaval of the 1960s is presented.

Independence, Freedom, Liberation

The idea of swadhinata (which translates as both freedom and independence), along with a novel conception of liberation (mukti), animated the founding discourse of Bangladesh in 1971. This paper explores how these ideas, and their longer histories, jostled together to shape the promise of Bangladesh’s founding. It also reflects on how the conflictual promise of 1971 underwrote the political history of post-independence Bangladesh.

Ambedkar’s Dhamma or Buddha and Plato minus Dialectics

The dialectical process or dialectical method plays a crucial role in the philosophy of change or the philosophy of processes. It determines the subject and the activity of the subject which is crucial in transforming material conditions. The process of dialectics not only determines the subject; rather, in its due course, it eliminates the mediating agencies and creates new conditions. Ambedkar’s reinterpretation of classical Buddhism is influenced by Buddha as well as Plato, but this reinterpretation eliminates the Buddhist dialectics and Platonic dialectics from its framework. Due to the elimination of Buddhist and Platonic dialectics, Ambedkar adopts the theory of imitation from Plato and constructs a new source of institutional power, that is, sangha.

On the Kashmir Question

The movement for Kashmir has as one of its underlying motifs, religion. In this paper, the author seeks to historically analyse the many ways religion has been put to serve different purposes. Influenced more by the rituals and doctrines that are particular and contingent in time, the universal and eternal component of Islam seems to have been all but forgotten, more so by those fighting for 'Kashmir', subdued by what the author labels as the 'Arkoun-Kuran' effect - when the unthinkable is gradually transformed over time into the unthought. South Asia has seen the coexistence and synthesis of Hindu and Muslim cultures and traditions - only a renewed awareness of this can reverse the Arkoun-Kuran effect.

Community, Women Citizens and a Women's Politics

The articulation of women as citizens in India was imbricated within a web of discourses of liberation and equality which made the national-political and religious-cultural communities the primary, and often contesting, sources of a person's identity as citizen. The primacy given to community membership, and the manner in which women were implicated in it, has had important ramifications for giving voice to women as citizens and for carving out a space for women's politics.
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