July 15, 2016
C. Ryan Perkins
Bangladesh map

Bangladesh's present and pasts

Late Friday, July 1, 2016 gunmen stormed an upscale cafe in Dhaka, Bangladesh killing 21 hostages and two police officers over the following ten hours. One student from UC Berkeley (Tarishi Jain) and two students from Emory University (Abinta Kabir and Faraaz Hossain) were among the dead. This attack followed on the heels of other attacks in Bangladesh targeting religious minorities and progressives. Apart from such atrocities becoming "news" around the world, Bangladesh is not on most people's radars. 

For those of you who want to gain an understanding of Bangladesh, its history, and the struggle of its people the following is meant to serve, not as a comprehensive resource guide, but as a brief introduction. 


For a quick introduction see the C.I.A.'s Factbook.

For a good history of Bangladesh, see Willem van Schendel's A History of Bangladesh.

Also see, Ali Riaz's Bangladesh:A Political History Since Independence.

In 1947 upon independence from the British, the nation states of India and Pakistan were formed.  Pakistan consisted of East Pakistan (what is now Bangladesh) and West Pakistan. In 1971 a war was fought between India and what was then East and West Pakistan. This war led to the formation of the nation of Bangladesh.  Moving beyond nationalist retellings of this war, Yasmin Saikia's book, Women, War, and the Making of Bangladesh, examines it from the perspective of survivors and perpetrators, making it a  compeling narrative of loss, belonging, and the possibility of redemption through recourse to a shared humanity.

For an essay about the attack on July 1, 2016, see Faisal Devji's thought-provoking piece, "Refusing Islam in Dhaka."