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

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Ukraine War and the Perils of ‘Self-determination’

The right of “self-determination of the people” is a double-edged sword. It has been used by postcolonial nations to reclaim their territories and economy. The idea has also been exploited by the powerful countries to divide the world on ethnic and religious lines to advance their hegemony through humanitarian interventions.

Maria Aurora Couto (1937–2022) and Her Fifty–Fifty Nationalism

Maria Aurora Couto, the Goan littérateur and cultural activist who passed away on 14 January 2022, brought out the facets of her cosmopolitan outlook and her abiding faith in the synthetic traditions of Goan/Indian culture. She remained steeped in the cultural demands of high nationalism embodying the values of her times. 

Pseudoscience, Sophistry, and Hindu Nationalism in India

Holy Science: The Biopolitics of Hindu Nationalism by Banu Subramaniam, University of Washington Press, Orient Blackswan, 2019; pp xv + 290, $95, `945 (hardcover).

Deconstructing Muslim Identity

Making a Muslim: Reading Publics and Contesting Identities in Nineteenth Century North India by S Akbar Zaidi, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021; pp 269, `950 (hardback).

A Saga of Conceptual Difficulties

Similarity: A Paradigm for Culture Theory edited by Anil Bhatti and Dorothee Kimmich, New Delhi: Tulika Books, 2018; pp xiv + 357, 995.

 

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 libe

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.

 

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