News about the Subir & Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies
at UC Berkeley - Fall 2020
Fall 2020
Dear Friends,

Welcome to the Fall semester. The last few months have been like no other, and I hope that you and your loved ones are all safe and well. Despite the many constraints currently in place, we continue to organize events on a wide variety of themes (including, for example, migration and labor markets, translations of Tagore's songs, Bangladesh's national identity, and climate change), support graduate students, engage in cutting edge research, publish articles and working papers, and highlight scholarship on various contemporary topics. Please do share our events with friends and colleagues especially those based in South Asia. The advantage of Zoom is that audience members can attend from anywhere around the world. 

Event highlights this semester include a lecture by Yale economist, Mushfiq Mobarak, a workshop on climate change with scholars Jason Cons, Naveeda Khan, and Kasia Paprocki, a lecture by BRAC University public health specialist, Malabika Sarkar, a number of lectures on the life of Tagore co-sponsored with our Tagore Initiative, and the Chowdhury Center distinguished lecture by London School of Economics professor, Naila Kabeer

A quick round up of all our events lined up for this semester are:

  1. Thu, Sept 3, 2020
    A. Mushfiq Mobarak | Migration and the Labor Market Impacts of COVID-19 In Bangladesh and Nepal 
    9-10:30 a.m. | Zoom Event
  2. Thu, Oct 1, 2020
    The Chowdhury Center Distinguished Lecture for 2020
    Naila Kabeer | Contested Narratives about National Identity: Gender, State and Community
    8-10 a.m. |  Zoom Event
  3. Tue, Oct 13, 2020
    Fakrul Alam | “I’ve caught uncatchable loveliness in rhyme’s binds”: Translating Rabindranath Tagore’s Songs
    9-10:30 a.m. |  Zoom Event
  4. Tue, Nov 10, 2020
    A talk by Critic and Cultural commentator, Samik Bandyopadhyay
    9-10:30 a.m. |  Zoom Event
  5. Thu, Nov 19, 2020
    Malabika Sarkar | Implementation Research: A catalyst for bridging the knowledge gap between Discovery to Delivery
    9-10:30 a.m. |  Zoom Event
  1. Tue, Nov 17, 2020
    Climate Change in Bangladesh
    9-11 a.m. |  Zoom Event
  1. Thu, Feb 18, 2021
    Naeem Mohaiemen + Yasufumi Nakamori | Crisis and Creativity: Artists Speak Series
    9-10:30 a.m. |  Zoom Event
All our events are video recorded and made available on our website. Please scroll to the bottom of the sidebar on the right to see a list of newly added videos.

Student & Faculty News
The Chowdhury Center provides several scholarships to Berkeley students for conducting research to improve the lives of those in Bangladesh. 

For 2020, the Malini Chowdhury Fellowship on Bangladesh Studies was awarded to Tausif Noor, Ph.D. Candidate in Art History, for his research titled: The intersections between artistic practices and processes of political liberation in Bangladesh and West Bengal. 

Anushah Hossain a Ph.D. candidate in the Energy and Resources Group was the recipient of the Subir Chowdhury Fellowship on Quality of Life in Bangladesh for her research titled A Socio-Technical History of Bangla Computing.

We are pleased to announce that Shikha Bhattacharjee, the Subir Chowdhury Fellow for 2019, was awarded a prestigious grant from the National Science Foundation in support of her doctoral dissertation research. According to Ms. Bhattacharjee, it was the generous support of the Chowdhury Fellowship that enabled her to not only prepare for her dissertation fieldwork in Dhaka but also to pursue this prestigious and competitive award.

The Live Life Like Tarishi Scholarship Award for 2019, an award that provides for a grant of $2000 to a UC Berkeley undergraduate student with a demonstrated commitment in the field of South Asian history, society, languages, and culture, was awarded to Devanshi Rathi for her essay titled, Vision and Not Visibility: The Power of the 64 Squares

This Fall, Chowdhury Center Director, Dr. Saxena will be teaching a course titled, Business and Labor Rights in Global Supply Chains at the Haas School of Business.This class will help students to understand the difficulty of ensuring good labor rights in very complex settings with a strong focus on Bangladesh. For more information, please see HERE

Working Groups
The Chowdhury Center will continue the Bangladesh Studies Interdisciplinary Working Group this semester for graduate (MA and PhD) students whose research focuses on any aspect of Bangladesh or Bangladesh studies. The goal of this group is to connect students from across campus who are focused on Bangladesh as a part of their research program, as well as to serve as a forum to exchange ideas about fieldwork, conference opportunities, publishing, jobs, etc. For more information, or if you would like to join this group, please contact Patrick DeSutter at

The Chowdhury Center, in partnership with the James P Grant School of Public Health (BRAC JPGSPH) and the Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (CED) at BRAC University in Bangladesh, is working on a research project focused on improving the livelihoods of garment workers in global supply chains. This project has conducted a rapid response survey of factory owners and garment workers in June and July 2020 to understand how they have been impacted during the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the next few months, we plan to disseminate the research findings through joint research briefs, commentaries, and blogs, as well as via webinars where key points will be discussed with other experts in the field. This project has been partially funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The Chowdhury Center collaborated with the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) on three events dealing with the Rohingya issue in the Spring semester of 2020.

  1. A screening of Yusuf Zine's I Am Rohingya: A Genocide in Four Acts, on Thursday, February 9, 2020, a powerful documentary that chronicles the journey of fourteen Rohingya youth who take to the stage in order to depict their families' harrowing escape from Burma.
  2. A one day conference titled, Beyond the Crisis Narrative: Rohingya Statelessness and its implications for Bangladesh, held on on Friday, February 7, 2020, that brought together scholars, activists, and members of the community to discuss the Rohingya crisis from the perspective of Bangladesh. Video recordings of the presentations may be viewed here.
  3. On Monday, February 10, 2020, a team of scholars and specialists including Dr. Sanchita Banerjee Saxena (UC Berkeley), Samira Siddique (UC Berkeley), Shireen Huq (Naripokkho), Yasmin Ullah (Rohingya Human Rights Network Canada), Prof. Ali Riaz (Illinois State University), Mabrur Ahmed (Restless Beings), Rahima Begum (Restless Beings), Rick Spees (Council of American Overseas Research Centers), and Golam M. Mathbor (American Institute of Bangladesh Studies) addressed Congress offering policy recommendations and ground updates on Rohingya and the human rights situation in Bangladesh. During this visit, Prof. Riaz and Dr. Saxena were also interviewed by VOA Bangladesh. A link is to the recording is here.
Publications Publications by recent Chowdhury Center fellows include a fellowship summary by Patrick DeSutter (Chowdhury Center Fellow for 2019) and a paper on the impact of Covid-19 on Bangladeshi garment workers in Jordan by Shikha Silliman Bhattacharjee (Chowdhury Center Fellow for 2019). 

To see all Chowdhury Center publications, please go HERE.

Newly added articles include: Past Events
As always, all Center events are video recorded and made available for viewing on our website. Newly added lectures may be viewed in the sidebar on the right.

We look forward to seeing you virtually at one of our many events this semester. Please stay safe.

The Subir & Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies, the first such center focused on Bangladesh in the United States, champions the study of Bangladesh’s economy, politics, society, art, and culture. Read more here

The Chowdhury Center Distinguished Lecture
Naila Kabeer
Contested Narratives about National Identity: Gender, State and Community

Thu, Oct 1, 2020
8-10 a.m.
Zoom Event

a Tagore@Berkeley event
A talk by Critic and Cultural commentator, Samik Bandyopadhyay

Tue, Nov 10, 2020
9-10:30 a.m.
Zoom Event

Climate Change in Bangladesh

Speakers: Jason Cons (UT Austin); Kasia Paprocki (LSE); Naveeda Khan (Johns Hopkins University)
RespondentsSugata Ray (UC Berkeley); Sarah Vaughn (UC Berkeley)

Tue, Nov 17, 2020
9-11 a.m.
Zoom Event

For the Last Three Years, More Than a Million Rohingya Muslims Have Been Stuck in Bangladesh
By Faisal Mahmud
Originally published in Vice

A Quarter of Bangladesh Is Flooded. Millions Have Lost Everything
By Somini Sengupta and Julfikar Ali Manik
Originally published in The New York Times

Responding to COVID-19 in the Developing World 
By A. Mushfiq Mobarak
Originally published in Yale Insights

Bangladesh’s garment industry unravelling
By Sanchita Banerjee Saxena
Originally published in East Asia Forum

While the virus does not discriminate, health systems do 
By Sabhanaz Rashid Diya
Originally published in The Daily Star

I am grateful to have the support of the Chow-dhury Center through the Malini Chowdhury Fellowship on Bangladesh Studies. This support will allow me to conduct preliminary field research in Bangladesh to understand the connections between projects addressing climate change and those addressing humanitarian emergencies and migration. Through this research I hope to make Bangladesh more visible within anthropology and the social sciences and to make connections with researchers in Bangladesh.
-- Patrick DeSutter (2019 Chowdhury Fellow): 

More testimonials HERE
Copyright © 2014  Institute for South Asia Studies, University of California at Berkeley
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