Paradoxes of the Popular: Crowds and the Ambivalence of Resistance in Bangladesh
October 30, 2018
3:30 pm-5:30 pm
Integrated Sciences Building
UMass Amherst Campus
Resistance Studies Initiative Fall Speaker Series:
Distinguished researchers and activists share critical reflections on resistance issues.
Refreshments will be served
Open to all
Nusrat S. Chowdhury is assistant professor of anthropology at Amherst College. She teaches and writes on popular sovereignty and political communication with particular focus on Bangladesh. Her book, Paradoxes of the Popular: Crowd Politics in Bangladesh (Stanford U Press 2019) makes an original case for the crowd as a defining feature and a foundational force of democratic practices in and beyond South Asia
Abstract: In this paper, I explore some of the constitutive contradictions of popular politics. I do so by focusing on the ephemeral and accidental configurations of the crowd in the political life of Bangladesh. The paper starts with representations of crowds in Bangladeshi literature and ends with ethnographic vignettes from my fieldwork on protest movements. I ultimately argue that crowds are a true political pharmakon in the sense that they are both solutions and scapegoats in performances of popular politics, thereby complicating the concept of resistance.