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ISEK - Institut für Sozialanthropologie und Empirische Kulturwissenschaft Ethnologie

International workshop “Ethnographic Perspectives on the State in Bangladesh”, August 28-30, 2019

Dear All,

we are happy to announce that the international workshop “Ethnographic Perspectives on the State in Bangladesh” will take place at the ISEK – Social Anthropology, AND 5.03, on August 28-30, 2019.

In recent decades, there has been renewed interest in the anthropology of the state among scholars working on South Asia and beyond. To date, however, the vast majority of studies have focused on India (e.g., Gupta 2012, Mathur 2017, Bear 2007 & 2015) with some significant work on Sri Lanka (e.g., Tambiah 1996, Spencer 1990, Klem 2017 & 2018), Nepal (e.g., Nightingale et al. 2018, Byrne 2018, Hachhethu 2002) and Pakistan (e.g., Hull 2012, Martin 2015, Gayer 2014). We contend, however, that Bangladesh’s distinct characteristics could significantly contribute to the on-going academic debate about the state. Against this backdrop and approaching the 50th anniversary of the Bangladeshi state, this workshop seeks to bring together ethnographic accounts of the state, democracy, and bureaucracy in a systematic and comparative perspective in order to investigate broader questions of state formation and contribute to these on-going conceptual debates. More particularly, it aims at understanding the state in Bangladesh in a comparative perspective to politics in the rest of South Asia where disaffection with party politics (e.g., Ruud 2001), high levels of politicization, different patronage power structures (e.g., Berenschot 2014) and authority regimes (e.g., Suykens and Klem 2018), the role of different material forms of state and bureaucracy (e.g., Hull 2012; Mathur 2016) and questions of ideology (e.g., Hansen 2001) have been useful entry points for an ethnographic account of state-society formation. With the plan to publish a special issue in Contributions to Indian Sociology in 2020, this workshop brings together scholars from different backgrounds that have been working ethnographically on a range of topics pertaining the Bangladeshi state and thereby provides a forum for comparative and interdisciplinary reflection.

You are very much welcomed to join the conference. Participation is free of cost. The discussions at the workshop will be based on pre-circulated draft papers and comments but no presentations. Accordingly, we ask you to register with latest by August 15, 2019. The fee for participating at the dinners on August 28, is 40 CHF and requires registration. You may also get in touch with Mascha in case you have any queries. 

Very kind regards, 

Julian Kuttig, Johannes Quack, Mascha Schulz


Workshop Programme: Ethnographic Perspectives on the State in Bangladesh (PDF, 1 MB)