Bangladesh’s 'Father of the Nation' and the transnational politics of memory: Connecting cross-scale iterations of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

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This article examines cross-scale iterations of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the “Father of the Nation” of Bangladesh. By documenting local, national, and international memory projects of Sheikh Mujib, the study illustrates the importance of taking seriously the different scales on which memory is institutionalized, and how iterations on different scales give shape to each other. It does so by applying a dual textual and ethnographic lens to iterations of Sheikh Mujib on three different scales. First, it analyses how the Sheikh figures in policies in Bangladesh to legitimize the present-day political order. Second, the paper reveals how these national policies are reinforced and made more meaningful through international heritage-making projects. Here, the paper investigates the inclusion of a speech given by Sheikh Mujib on 7 March 1971 in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2017. Third, the paper evaluates policy decisions made in London around the application of a bust of Sheikh Mujib by long-distance nationalists in the city, and how these need to be understood in relation to national and international projects. Building on these three cases, the paper concludes with a discussion of ethnographic material from the unveiling of the bust of Sheikh Mujib in London to reveal how transnationally intersecting and overlapping policies shape local commemorative practices. In doing so, the paper documents how local memory projects initiated by long-distance nationalists are restricted by lower-level policymaking decisions that take place outside the targeted nation state’s political framework.

TidsskriftInternational Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society
Sider (fra-til)163-179
Antal sider17
StatusUdgivet - jun. 2019

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