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Current Events Anthropology | Agrarian Change

Critical Perspectives from Bangladesh
LSE Seminar Inequality and Poverty Research Programme.
Anthropology 4-6pm, 18 March 2014. Old Building Room 6.06A.

Eva Gerharz (Ruhr University Bochum).
‘Setting the Scene: Indigenous Activism at Translocal Interfaces’.
Nasir Uddin (University of Chittagong).
‘Beyond Cultural and Political Binary: Understanding Indigenous Activism from Below’.

Discussants: Katy Gardner and David Lewis, London School of Economics.

Chair: Alpa Shah, London School of Economics.

Following the declaration of two consecutive International Decades of World’s Indigenous People (1995-2004 and 2005-2014), the formation of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in 2000 and the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People in the General Assembly in 2007 indigenous activism across the world is on the rise. In Bangladesh, the new scope for transnational indigenous activism has encouraged its indigenous peoples’ ongoing movement to demand for a separate ethnic identity through constitutional recognition. It has also provided a new impetus for demanding the settlement of long-due land disputes and for equal socio-economic-political rights which have been virulently debated since Bangladesh’s independence in 1971. The regional movement for self-autonomy of the Chittagong Hill Tracts and the movement for the rights of indigenous people at the national level received mounting momentum through the connection with global indigenous activism. However, the Bangladesh state officially declared in 2011 that there are no indigenous people in Bangladesh. This sort of constitutional denial that further marginalises the position of indigenous people refuels the transnationalisation of national level indigenous activism. The movement increasingly draws attention to the international community including different global indigenous activist forums, human rights organisations, and UN organisations. This, strategy, however, which turns large sections of indigenous people who live away from metropolitan and urban centers into objects of indigenous activism, whose critical engagement and social awareness about the politics of indigeneity are subject to often controversial negotiation.

The workshop addresses these processes by highlighting two dimensions—local and transnational—of indigenous activism from an empirically grounded perspective and attempts to formulate a comprehensive approach of indigenous activism in Bangladesh.