Accepted Paper:

National identity of discipline: in search of Bangladeshi anthropology in South Asia  


Nasir Uddin (University of Chittagong)

Paper short abstract:

Does anthropology indeed need a national identity? The paper critically analyzes the question with the examination of ‘Bangladeshi anthropology’ in South Asia in relation to Indian social anthropology.

Paper long abstract:

Does anthropology indeed need a national identity? If it is, what is Bangladeshi Anthropology? The paper addresses the questions in relations to Indian Social Anthropology. While global scholarship entertains transnationalism, the quest for national identity of a discipline seems narrow scholarly endeavor. But, national articulation of transnational spaces is significant to understand distinctiveness of a discipline with national scholarship. The paper critically examines whether there is any Bangladeshi Anthropology in South Asia.

Though institutionalized journey of anthropology in Bangladesh started recently, the practice of doing ethnographic research is dated back to early twentieth century, which was initiated by Indian anthropologists or Bangladeshi anthropologists trained in India and the West. Later, many European ethnographers undertook ethnographic research that led to the emergence of Anthropology as a separate discipline in Bangladesh. The spectrum of anthropological research ranges from agrarian village structure, social organizations, power structure, women's empowerment, indigenous and religious minority, environment issues, micro-credit, NGOs and development, media and popular culture, urban life and slum dwellers, reproductive health, state-formation and identity politics, garments sectors, Bangladeshi diaspora, liberation war, social transitions, political culture to organ transplantations. These research constituted a distinctive approach, and spatial feature which could be called 'the Anthropology of Bangladesh'. However, it is still unrecognized whether this scholarship could frame a national identity of Anthropology labeling Bangladeshi Anthropology. The paper explores the problems and potentials of national identity of Anthropology in Bangladesh examining the influences of Indian Social Anthropology along strong influences of British and American trend in Anthropology.

Panel P065
Indian social anthropology in South Asian perspective: reflection and retrospection