Thursday, February 22, 2007

Deshi Identity & Rupa Dupa...Super?

First discovered Dr. Rupa Huq here.

From Desh, a lecturer in Sociology from Kingston with an impressive publication list - a well established individual indeed.

I got to meet Dr. Rupa Huq earlier this evening amongst a panellist discussion on the Bangladeshi Diaspora Identity. This was a broad topic, so people were shooting off at all different angles.

impressed me a bit. She probably would have impressed me a whole lot more if I could have spoken to her one-to-one without the rude interruptions from others, who felt the need to voice their opinions over mine, etiquette people! Anyway...

I liked the way she touched on the glorified portrayal of the Bengali identity which you got from the sasa-generations. Something along the lines of; we owe our heritage to Rabrindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray - the clean, upper class, artistic types - the "good" ones that came out of Bengal. Also not forgetting, Ekushey February (ami ki buliteh pari...?)

Of course, for all those who know Tagore and Ray will know that they were actually from west Bengal, if we want to get technical, they're figures of India too. But it was somehow integral that they be kept as our heroes, because after all they were Bengali and the linkage of the language was important - ami ki buliteh pari...

It was significant that she mentioned this - just highlights the confusion amongst many Bangladeshis, the need for a national icon, force something that is not wholly representative onto ourselves. It's hard to get past Tagore and Ray because they are "internationally" recognised (Tagore and his Nobel and Ray and his Oscar) and we want that sort of recognition.

But also, 1971 came and followed Harrison's:

Bangladesh, Bangladesh
Such a great disaster
I don't understand
But it sure looks like a mess

(not forgetting Kissenger).

You wonder why people picked Tagore...
(cue: amar sonar bangla)

But things are changing. Bangladesh is surfacing more as an 'individual' as opposed to something 'borrowed.' Although it may be more attributed to things like:

Climate Change - Rising sea levels and the disappearance of Desh (the irony)
Professor Yunnus - Grameen Bank and the Nobel (the famous)
The war on want - Garment industry in Bangladesh and the likes of Tescos (the capitalism)

Not as ideal in terms of politics but as for recognition it's okay. It's part of the process. A country as young as Bangladesh needs to mature and it needs time, 35 years is not enough. Let's get up to 50 and see.

Rupa also said something that I agreed wholeheartedly with. The burden of representation. Ideally we don't want to be represented by anyone other than ourselves, but alas we get categorised and books such as Brick Lane become a study tool to understand British Bangladeshis.

So here is a formula for those who are thinking to make a certain minority their subject:
(minority + artistic expression) / mass consumerism =
vcreativity x responsibility^3
Apply it!

UK Bangladeshi diaspora - in fact and in fiction
click for larger image

However, Rupa was also neither a fan of White Teeth or East is East which was a little conservative. Whilst I couldn't read Smith I thought East is East was funny. I'm thinking maybe a marketing ploy - get on the right side of the Mosque? As she is one of the contenders for the Labour MP candidacy in Bethnal Green & Bow (currently held by George Galloway).

We still have to wait and see what Rupa is about. I welcome her to the political platform she'll be better than any other Jack (or Abdul) who gets the post. Although Rania, the Respect Councillor for Bromley-by-Bow, has her eyes set on the MP status too. Rania would be an ideal local candidate, on the other hand, any one of these women would be a step forward for Tower Hamlets.


Shak said...

Connie's sister, right?

Fugstar said...


did you record it?

I'm glad that the oddity of appropriating other cultural dons is being talked about at this level.

is rania as smart as rupa would appear? id fear she'd be easily used.

purple said...

Konnie! Don't forget its a 'K'. Yes, they SO look alike. She's a tiny woman who wears her trousers on the same level as Simon Cowell. Okay, that wasn't necessary.

I didn't record it because Ahmedullah and co. do that, umm, I have no recording facilities, buy me? But really it wasn't that *great*. The meeting room was REALLY full with interesting people, including mamu, but not enough time and too many panellists. They need another one methinks.

Rania is a strong contender even though she is young. I wouldn't doubt her. But I'm more inclined towards Ms. Rupa, maybe because she is older and will probably be a smarter candidate.

Currently there are apparently 100 Bengali men contending for the candidacy :s I hope Mr. East London Mosque (whose name I have forgotten) gets her back.

DrHuq said...

Hey Purple,
You're right on the technological front as there were not only recording facilities but no Powerpoint even. I still have my presentation though - which could have really enhanced things to near *great* levels - if you want me to email it over. It has lots of pictures. Let me know if this is of interest.

purple said...

Okay, suddenly I am a little embarrassed. Should remember this is a PUBLIC domain, anyone can access it, should think over what I write. But how cool Dr. Huq found this? >_<

I would say the presentation could have been enhanced further if more time was spent on it. I will be interested on what you have to e-mail. But I was speaking generally of the whole seminar.

Shak said...

Lol. SUCH a groupie.

purple said...

Me? Nah. Just showing a little appreciation that is all...

Fugstar said...

lets go squeeze her brain during her office hours?

purple said...

She might think I'm stalking her...

But then I'm sure she'll be delighted to meet more people. She has her own blog btw:

Not a lot on it. Doesn't really explain why she's getting into politics or why Labour.

*thumb twiddle*

Is this worth perusing?