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Centre for South Asian Studies: Events


‘Something has to be done’: forestalled futures in East Pakistan, 1947-52

‘Something has to be done’: forestalled futures in East Pakistan, 1947-52
Speaker: Layli Uddin # Kings College London
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Date and Time
5th Nov 2020 16:00 - 5th Nov 2020 17:30
Via Zoom


On 21st February 1952 in Dhaka, police shot and killed at least five people participating in province-wide language protests demanding that Bangla be recognised as an official state language. This paper dismantles the common thesis that the 1952 Language Movement in the recently established East Pakistan was a defining event that augured the break-up of the nation-state. Examining tribal resistance, food protests and industrial riots in the immediate post-partition period, I show how peasant and workers understood the postcolonial experience to be incomplete, and that the future they had fought for had not yet arrived. ‘’Something has to be done” was the overwhelming sentiment that drove  these peasants and workers to fight for the realisation of the “poor people’s Pakistan” that had been promised to them.  In this paper, I demonstrate the differing imaginations and understandings between the state and subaltern constituencies on the issue of sovereignty, capital and the future of Pakistan itself 

Damaged fishing boat, Telwatte, July 2005