Politics and Government Professor Ali Riaz presented a book talk November 14 at Columbia University in New York. Organized by the Institute of South Asian Studies, the presentation was titled “Bangladesh: Beyond the Binaries.”
Riaz argued that the portrayals of Bangladesh’s politics in the international media often follow a familiar pattern, as either a conflict between secularism and Islamism on the one hand or a battle between personalities on the other. He said the binary frame used to understand Bangladeshi politics betrays the complexity of the nation’s tumultuous journey and future trajectories.
Bangladeshis, Riaz said, have demonstrated their aspirations for democracy. Further, democracy and development are not mutually exclusive; one shouldn’t be abandoned for the sake of the other. In this respect, he said, Bangladesh should not adopt Malaysia as a model, for such an effort would be detrimental to Bangladesh.
The presentation was based on Riaz’s recently published book Bangladesh: A Political History Since Independence. Riaz said writing the political history of Bangladesh has become a challenging task, as regimes have tried to create an “official narrative,” and any digression is scorned. The presentation session was chaired by Professor Partha Chaterjee, the director of the institute.