News about the Subir & Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies
at UC Berkeley - Spring 2016
Spring 2016
Dear Friends,

Welcome back to Berkeley and best wishes for a happy new year. The coming semester at the Center is as busy as ever full of lectures, performances, and workshops, and we hope you can join us.

We are delighted to announce that our first major event will be the 2016 Chowdhury Center Distinguished Lecture by Nobel Laureate and pre-eminent economist, Dr. Amartya Sen. Dr. Sen's lecture will take place on Sunday, March 13, 2016 at 4 pm and is free and open to the public. Please join us in welcoming him back to Berkeley. Further details about the event may be found in the box on the right. 

Other Chowdhury Center events this semester include:
  • April 1: Naveeda Khan, anthropologist at John Hopkins University, will discuss her work which focuses on the silt islands in the middle of the Brahmaputra/Jamuna River in Bangladesh.
  • April 4: Sewing Power: Labor Rights in the Garment Industry in South Asia, a half-day symposium focusing on labor rights in the garment industry in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Panelists at the symposium feature human rights lawyer from Pakistan, Faisal Siddiqi; human rights lawyer from Bangladesh and Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Law@theMargins, Chaumtoli Huq; and Kanchana Ruwanpura, Sri Lanka specialist and Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Edinburgh. 
  • April 20: Zia Haider Rahman, the award winning Bangladeshi Author of In the Light of What We Know, will be on campus as a part of our Distinguished Author Series.
  • April 25: Clothing manufacturer and Managing Director of the Mohammadi Group, Rubana Huq, will discuss providing livelihood for over 5000 women in eight factories across Bangladesh.  
For those of you who were not able to attend our Fall events, please visit the Videos section on our website to view videos and podcasts of past programs. Recently added are the lecture on Communities in Transition by  Prof. M. Omar Rahman, the Vice Chancellor, Independent University, Bangladesh; Dr. Mousumi Banerjee's delightful performance of songs/kobita ​of Tagore; the discussion between Political Scientists, Ali Riaz and Rounaq Jahan and Anthropologist, Dina Siddiqi on the erosion of secularism in Bangladesh; and Assistant Professor of English, Dr. Poulomi Saha's talk on Freud, Tagore, and Imagining the Female Nationalist Subject in Colonial Bengal. Video-recordings of the opening remarks made by Munir Quddus, President of BDI and Sanchita Saxena, Director of the Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies at the annual conference of the Bangladesh Development Initiative are also available on the Center's website. 

As part of the Center's focus on creating opportunities for collaborative research between UC Berkeley and top universities in Bangladesh, four UCB faculty; Prof. Lawrence Cohen (Anthropology), Prof. Raka Ray (Sociology), Asst. Prof. Poulomi Saha (English), and Prof. Allan Smith (Epidemiology), spent a week at BRAC University this past winter and conducted workshops on undergraduate teaching and research methodology as well as engaged with BRAC faculty on collaborative research. Prof. Lawrence Cohen's workshop titled, Rethinking Medical Anthropology and its Methodology, included discussions on the body in modernization theory and explored ways in which those theories could be integrated into participants’ research projects. He also conducted an interactive session for faculty members on methodologies of teaching sensitive topics such as race, gender, and sexuality. An expert on gender and feminist theory, inequality and emerging middle classes, Prof. Raka Ray's workshop entitled, Searching for the Middle Classes, raised the question of whether the middle class was an economical or a cultural category and explored the politics of class and gender within the emerging middle classes in South Asia. Prof. Poulomi Saha, Assistant Prof. of English conducted a workshop on Theory of Methodology in which she looked at the application of critical theory to disciplines such as English and Anthropology that are engaged in analyzing culture through texts. She also focused on the concept of interdisciplinarity and the need for going across disciplines in pursuit of research objectives. Professor Allan Smith, a global expert on public health, conducted an intensive workshop on arsenic contamination in drinking water in Bangladesh. Highlighting the urgency of the problem and its implications on future generations, the workshop focused on new areas of research on the effects of arsenic contamination on pregnant mothers. 
Going forward, such opportunities for inter-university collaborative research will include a new program with Independent University, Bangladesh. In the summer of 2016, they will be hosting faculty for a series of workshops on teaching general education classes, health and mobile technology, and the garment industry.

Cal@Bangladesh, our exciting new program through which Cal students participate in 8-weeks of fully supported internships based in Bangladesh witnessed a great start last year. During the summer of 2015, the Center sent three students to Bangladesh, Dorothy Kong (​Haas Business​), interned at Technohaven, a technology company in Dhaka, on technological solutions for social problems. She and her friends were featured in the Dhaka North Rotary Club's bulletin where she gave a presentation on the work-life differences between U.S and Bangladesh. Laura E Boudreau (​Haas Business​) and Rezwana Abed (Public Policy), traveled to Bangladesh to conduct research at Bangladesh's School of Business, Independent University on projects related to the garment industry and women in enterprise development. Please find a mention of Laura's work on page 26 of the Dhaka Tribune

Cal@Bangladesh in 2016 will accommodate more students as well as new partnerships. This summer the Center will send 8-10 students to Bangladesh to participate participate in projects at Technohaven and IUB as well as in engineering projects at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), conduct policy research at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), and work on legal and human rights issues at the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST). Please click here to read more about our upcoming internship projects.
There are many opportunities to support the work of the Chowdhury Center! Contact Sanchita Saxena if you are interested in supporting our internship program, visiting scholar program, or our faculty training program. Future plans include curriculum development awards for faculty to add Bangladesh content into their courses, a student and faculty exchange program with Dhaka University, and an undergraduate study abroad program with a Bangladeshi university.
In case you missed it, the recent media coverage on the Chowdhury Center includes articles on Conference on Bangladesh's development held in US (The Daily Star, Business Desk, Nov 12, 2015), BDI Conference in UC Berkeley (Voice of America, Selim Hossain, Nov 12, 2015), and Most Bangladeshi garment workers are women, but their union leaders weren't. Until now (Public Radio International, Bruce Wallace, September 16, 2015).
We look forward to seeing you at one of our events this semester!

Sanchita Saxena
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 2016 Chowdhury Center Distinguished Lecture by Nobel laureate, Prof. Amartya Sen

Sunday, March 13
4-6 p.m.
International House, The Chevron Auditorium

Sewing Power: Labor Rights in the Garment Industry in South Asia

with Faisal Siddiqi, Chaumtoli Huq, and Kanchana Ruwanpura

Monday, April 4
1-3:30 p.m.
10 Stephens Hall