History research has become difficult in the prevailing political circumstances of Bangladesh or India. Bengalis from Bangladesh and West Bengal are going to various countries around the world for higher studies. It is there that they are able to research on various facets of history which they cannot do in their own countries.
Terming this new area for Bengalis overseas as the 'third Bengal', historian Dipesh Chakrabarty said that this has opened news doors for discussion and research on history.
Dipesh Chakrabarty, a Lawrence A Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor in history at the University of Chicago and one of the leading experts in subaltern history, was speaking on Saturday afternoon as an invited guest at the Prothom Alo office in the capital.
Also taking part in the discussion were Prothom Alo editor Matiur Rahman as well as writers and journalists of the newspaper. Dipesh Chakrabarty also answered various questions at the end of his talk. Moderating the event, Prothom Alo executive editor Sajjad Sharif introduced Dipesh Chakrabarty, highlighting various aspects of this life and works.
Among the Bengali speaking population worldwide, 70 per cent are Muslims, Dipesh Chakrabarty said. However, most of the research on the history of Bengalis is done by Hindu historians.
He said the distinctive lifestyle, culture and aspirations of the Bengali Muslim population do not find much place in that history. There is need to fill that vacuum in order to get a holistic historical and social comprehension of the Bengali people.
Pointing to the cultural differences between Bangladesh and West Bengal, Dipesh Chakrabarty used the examples of the Kolkata movie stars like Uttam Kumar and Soumitra Chattopadhyay. They exuded their star image on screen he said, but Bangladesh's actors, like Chanchal Chowdhury, are not the conventional movie heroes. Their natural acting style set them apart and is winning them popularity in West Bengal.
Dipesh Chakrabarty spoke about his recent research on climate change. He also deliberated on various perspectives of his studies on the history of the working class, the leftist political movement and the context of western thought in his research.
Alongside Prothom Alo journalists, writers and researchers Mohiuddin Ahmad and Altaf Parvez were present at the discussion.