On 20 January, Iftekhar Iqbal, AKU-ISMC Research Fellow, spoke at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) as part of the South Asia History Seminar Series. His presentation was entitled Wilderness and Social Power in Colonial Bengal.
The presentation formed an attempt to understand forms of social power from an ecological perspective. In particular, he argued that in colonial Bengal (Bangladesh and West Bengal, India) the peasant and the middle class approached the state differently in attempts to access agro-ecological resources.
The peasants’ approach was characterised by an inclination towards agrarian autonomy. This differed from that of the middle class, which preferred overt state power. Iqbal argued that the peasants preferred system of agrarian autonomy proved much more conducive to the social and economic well-being of an agrarian society.
In his presentation, Iqbal noted that in post-colonial Bangladesh similar types of exchanges continue to inform debates within the public sphere.
The talk was attended by senior faculty members and graduate students from SOAS and other academic institutions. Among those present were Professor Ravi Ahuja (SOAS, Department of History), Dr Daud Ali (SOAS, Department of History), Professor Peter Robb (SOAS, Department of History), Dr Shabnum Tajani (SOAS, Department of History), Dr David Taylor (Institute of Commonwealth Studies) and Dr Jon Wilson (Department of History, King’s College London).
Dr Iftekhar Iqbal is an historian of modern South Asia with particular interest in Bangladesh. He works in the fields of ecological history and the history of ideas, social changes and pedagogy. His research project at AKU-ISMC examines the formation, nature and trends of the public sphere in postcolonial Bangladesh.
Coordinator, Planning & Academic Development
Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations