South Asia

Organized Panel Session

116 - The Textual Lives of the People: Crowds and Communities in the Post-Partition Literature of East Bengal

7/7/2018
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Juniper, New Building

This panel explores the movement between politics and literature in post-1947 East Bengal. Together, the panelists theorize the logics underpinning the literary representations of the crowd, the historically overdetermined “Bengal Muslim community,” and the normative category of "the people". The authors discussed are well-known figures in post-partition Bengali literature: Anisuzzaman, Ahmed Sofa, Akhtaruzzaman Elias, and Mahmudul Huq. Though they by no means boast a common inheritance, their work has been animated by a preoccupation with "the people." In addressing how this figure pervaded the literature and the literary history of the period, this panel raises a set of concerns. Tracing the transformation of the insurrectionary crowd into the people, it explores the paradox created by the necessity of the normative concept of the people and the destabilizing forms of its concrete emergence. How and why did the projects of literary history, as in Anisuzzaman and Sofa’s writings, collapse into a general history of the Bengali Muslim mind? What accounts for the transition from literary artifacts to intimate psychologies? What theoretical insights about the popular can we glean from the narrative of a political procession (michhil)—as in Sofa’s much-celebrated Omkar or Elias’ Chilekothar Sepai—where a collectivity comes into being at the expense of a cathartic self-negation? How does the feminine figure as agent or victim of the march of the people? These are the questions that the panelists tackle through their reading of important literary corpus located in an under-explored chapter of South Asian political and literary history.

Presentations:

Send Email for Nusrat Chowdhury

Send Email for Sandipto Dasgupta

Send Email for Nazmul Sultan

Thomas Newbold

University of Chicago, United States

Presentation(s):

Send Email for Thomas Newbold

Send Email for Nusrat Chowdhury

Send Email for Sandipto Dasgupta


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