The Department of English and Humanities at University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh celebrated the bicentenary of Karl Marx’s birth with a two-day international conference, titled “Language, Literature, Culture and Politics: Marx’s Bicentenary Conference,” on November 30-December 1.
The conference started at 10am and ended at 6pm.
On Friday, November 30, National Professor Rafiqul Islam and Professor Serajul Islam Chowdhury, Professor Emeritus, Dhaka University, spoke in the inaugural session. After that, Dr Bret Benjamin of State University of New York, presented his keynote address titled “Living amidst the catastrophes of ‘The Living Contradiction’: Theses on Marx at 200”. On the same day, Professor Salimullah Khan discussed Marx’s ideas of alienation in relation to Fanon’s discussions of the same issue in the context of colonial reality. Other sessions included a panel discussion on “Marxism, Literature and Culture in Bangladesh,” featuring Faruk Wasif and Dr Mohammad Azam, and chaired by Prof. Khaliquzzaman Elias, and a session on “Creative Explorations of Marx” by Professor Kaiser Haq.
On Saturday, there were two plenary sessions: the first by ULAB Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Shamsad Mortuza on “The Specter of Naxalgia in Meghnadbodh Rohoshyo”. His focus was on how Anik Datta’s 2017 movie Meghnadhbodh Rohoshyo recreates a nuanced narrative that conjures the past Naxalite spirit to serve a present moment for the future. Professor Mortuza argued that the Naxalgia, portrayed in the movie, is a deliberate interest in the past without actually committing to any value judgments of being right or wrong.
The second plenary session was by East West University Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Fakrul Alam on “Karl Marx on India: A Postcolonial Perspective”. He focused on Marx’s considerable body of writings on India in English to indicate the extent of his astonishing knowledge of the subcontinent’s political and socioeconomic history and highlight the incisiveness of his critique of British rule in India. Professor Alam further accentuated the rhetorical persuasiveness with which Marx makes his case against British rule in India and underscored his command over English prose.
The second day’s programs included a panel discussion on “Marxism and Social Movements in Bangladesh” organized by Center for Bangladesh Studies. Moderated by Arup Rahee, the discussants were Hiya Islam, Firoz Ahmed and Samina Lutfa.
The conference also had a concluding discussion on “Bangladesh in the New Century” chaired by The New Age Editor Nurul Kabir and with Dhaka University Economics Professor M. M. Akash, Ganasanghati Andolon Chief Coordinator Zonayed Saki and Communist Party of Bangladesh President Mujahidul Islam Selim as discussants.
The two-day conference ended with a cultural performance by Arup Rahee, titled “Imagining Liberation: Karl Marx and Lalon Fakir”.
In addition, parallel sessions of presentations were also held on both days with 45 academics presenting their research on a range of interdisciplinary themes, focusing on the relevance of Marxist views in the contemporary world.
Links to videos of plenary sessions and panel discussions:
Plenary Session 1: Dr. Salimullah Khan
Panel Discussion on “Marxism, Literature and Culture in Bangladesh” by Mr. Faruk Wasef, Mohammad Azam and chair – Professor Khaliquzzaman Elias
“Karl Marx vs Nux Vomica 200” and selected poems by Professor Kaiser Haq, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Plenary Session 2: Dr. Shamsad Mortuza
Plenary Session 3: Dr. Fakrul Alam
Panel Discussion on ” Bangladesh in the New Century” by Dr. M. M. Akash, Professor of Economics, Dhaka University; Mr. Zonayed Saki, Chief Coordinator, Ganasanghati Andolon; Mr. Mujahidul Islam Selim, President, Communist Party of Bangladesh; Chair: Mr. Nurul Kabir, Editor, The New Age
Cultural Performance: Arup Rahee
Some photos from the two-day event: