As we observe the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh and the 70th anniversary of 21 February 1952, a movement that catalyzed the beginning Bengali nationalist movements in East Pakistan, our celebrations create the scope to read and reread how this nation is imagined in manifestations of the public consciousness–in literary texts, films, and other popular media.
The Department of English and Humanities (DEH) at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) sought to raise these enquiries and more in its 2022 Multicultural Conclave, focusing on ‘A Dialogic ImagiNation of Bangladesh: Literary-Linguistic-Cultural Representations, Non-representations and Misrepresentations’.
The two-day online Conclave beginning at 9 am on Friday, February 25 and ending on the evening of Saturday, February 26, was held on Zoom and aired live on ULAB’s social media pages.
Keynote Speakers at the conclave included Professor Ganesh N. Devy, best known for the People’s Linguistic Survey of India; Professor Syed Manzoorul Islam, award-winning fiction writer, critic, and professor of English at ULAB; and critic, educator, activist, and editor Professor Saugata Bhadhuri, specialist in the literary and cultural history of colonial history at Jawaharlal Nehru University, India.
The Vice Chancellor of ULAB, Professor Imran Rahman; Pro-Vice Chancellor, ULAB, Professor Shamsad Mortuza, the Head of the Department, Ms. Arifa Ghani Rahman, and Professor Syed Manzoorul Islam, Professor at the Department of English and Humanities, ULAB, spoke on the occasion.
The keynote and plenary sessions explored the ideas of nation, nationalism, and nationhood; on how specific spaces and time periods shape the characters portrayed in narratives on Bangladesh; and how these local and global representations, in turn, shape relationships between this nation and those living in it. Through exploring and debating these issues, questions like the following were raised: can we reach towards a more inclusive narrative of Bangladesh in the coming years? Can we help envision a state whose story encompasses the episodes of history as yet inaccessible to students and the youth, a story that includes the experiences of all political, linguistic, ethnic, and gender identities?
The event saw discussions led by Professor Rachel McDermott, Columbia University; Professor Kaiser Haq, University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh; Professor Azfar Hussain, Grand Valley State University; Professor Angshuman Kar, University of Burdwan; Professor Cara Cilano, Michigan State University; Professor Mohammad Azam, University of Dhaka; Professor Shoaib Gibran, Bangladesh Open University; Dr. Avishek Parui, IIT Madras; Dr. Christin Höne, Maastricht University; Professor Fahmida Akhter, Jahangirnagar University; and Professor Sudeep Chakravarti, writer, journalist, and Visiting Professor, ULAB.
Speaker details can be seen at: https://deh.ulab.edu.bd/conferences/ulabmulticulturalconclave2022
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