News about the Subir & Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies
at UC Berkeley - Fall 2015
October 2015
Dear Friends,

Monday, March 30, marked the official opening of UC Berkeley’s Subir & Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies. Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and guests celebrated the launch with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Institute of South Asia Studies. Following the ceremony, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, the Founder and Chairman of BRAC — the world’s largest NGO — delivered a speech titled A Quiet Revolution in Bangladesh, focusing on developments in public health and human rights. Please click on the box on the right to view a recording of this talk. 

Our latest issue of Khabar- the annual newsletter of the Institute of South Asia Studies - highlights the new Subir & Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies. Please read it online here or click the box in the right column. Email us your mailing address if you want a hard copy.

The Chowdhury Center has three main goals: to showcase innovative research on Bangladesh; to train the next generation of scholars on Bangladesh, and to create opportunities for collaborative research between UC Berkeley and top universities in Bangladesh.

Since our official inauguration (and even before!), we have brought - and continue to bring - top Bangla-desh scholars and public intellectuals to Berkeley. Events over the past year have included: a Chowdhury Center visit by a delegation of top ranking officials from the Higher Education Quality Enhancement Project (HEQEP), Ministry of Education, Bangladesh; a reception in honor of Ambassador Marcia Bernicat, the U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh; a lecture by Michelle Murphy, University of Toronto, Dying, Not Dying, and Not Being Born: Experimental Exuberance in Bangladesh; and a book talk on Made in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka: The Labor Behind the Global Garments and Textiles Industries by author and Director of the Chowdhury Center, Sanchita Saxena. 
This Fall we are once again hosting the Bangladesh Development Initiative conference (November 6-8 ), welcoming noted Rabindra Sangeet scholar and performer Mousumi Banerjee (Oct 30) for a performance of the songs/kobita ​of Tagore. In addition, distinguished scholars Ali Riaz (Political Scientist), Rounaq Jahan (Political Scientist), and Dina Siddiqi (Anthropologist) will discuss the erosion of secularism in Bangladesh (November 5), Omar Rahman, the Vice Chancellor of the Independent University, Bangladesh will share his thoughts on communities in transition, and finally on November 12, UC Berkeley Professor of English, Poulomi Saha will talk about Colonial Bengal. Please click on boxes in the right column for further details. We are delighted to announce that in Spring 2016 Author Zia Haider Rahman whose debut novel, In the Light of What We Know, was published in 2014 to international critical acclaim, has agreed to visit UC Berkeley as a part of our distinguished author series. 

We are also training the next generation of scholars on Bangladesh by building a strong group of young scholars not only focused on Bangladesh as a part of their study, but supporting scholars from Bangladesh as well. The Chowdhury Center provides three scholarships to Berkeley students for conducting research to improve the lives of those in Bangladesh. The awardees of the Chowdhury fellowships for 2015 are: Yoshika Crider (Energy and Resource Group) was the recipient of the Subir Chowdhury Fellowship on Quality of Life in Bangladesh; Sheikh Waheed Baksh (Development Program) was awarded the Malini Chowdhury Fellowship on Bangladesh Studies; and Abhishek Dalal (BA, Public Health, South Asian Studies, Class of 2018) received the Subir Chowdhury Undergraduate Scholarship for his work in medicine, health behavior, and health care administration through two health-oriented non-profit student organizations.

Finally, the Center will focus on creating opportunities for collaborative research between UC Berkeley and top universities in Bangladesh, designed not only to simply impart knowledge or build capacity but to generate new research ideas, projects, and programs based on mutual understanding. As a part of this
endeavor, the Chowdhury Center will be sending four UCB faculty to BRAC University this winter to conduct workshops on undergraduate teaching and research methodology, as well as to engage with BRAC faculty on collaborative research. This will be the first step in strengthening our collaboration with BRAC University. 

We are delighted to announce the launch of an exciting new program called Cal@Bangladesh, a program through which Cal students participate in 8-weeks of fully supported internships based in Bangladesh. This past summer, three Cal students, Dorothy Kong (​Haas Business​), Laura E Boudreau (​Haas Business​) and Rezwana Abed (Public Policy), traveled to Bangladesh to spend the summer working at internships offered through our partners: Technohaven and Bangladesh's School of Business, Independent University. For 2016, we hope to expand our offerings to include opportunities with BRAC, The Dhaka Tribune, Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology (BUET), North South University (Department of Economics), Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, The Daily Star, and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B).

The Chowdhury Center has received quite a bit of media coverage, both here in the US and abroad. 
We look forward to seeing you at one of our events this semester!

Development and Democracy in Bangladesh: Current problems and Prospects

November 6 – 8, 2015 
9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Clark Kerr Campus

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
We offer one Bengali class per semester. The classes start in the Fall semester typically at the beginners level moving along at four gradually advancing levels in subsequent semesters. The classes are aimed to build proficiency in speaking, comprehending, reading, and writing skills. Students tend to be at different proficiency levels when they start however the curriculum is adjusted accordingly to sustain their interests. Most students therefore tend to return for advanced levels to both continue learning and improving their proficie-ncy. This year, our class enrollment is among the highest. Fourteen students, of both heritage and non-heritage background, are enrolled in our beginner class.
-  Amit Basu
Bangla Language Instructor

Our sincere thanks to the community supporters without whom we would not have been able to sustain Bangla@Berkeley

Ocean of Stories: Telling Tales through Tagore's Music and Poetry

Friday, October 30
6-8 p.m.
315 Wheeler Hall