The Danse Macabre of Bangladesh.

Humayun Azad’s Creative Interruptions in an Age of Anger

  • Mara Matta University of Rome ‘Sapienza’
Keywords: Bangladesh, Bengali literature, existential anger, mimetic desire, negative solidarities, organic intellectuals


Bangladesh has come a long way, since its constitution in 1972 and it is now considered on the ‘right path’ towards a future as shiny as the one of its immediate neighbor, ‘Shining India’. In this scenario of rivalries and mimetic desires gone astray, Humayun Azad (1947-2004), a writer and a scholar, regularly spoke out against misogyny, Islamist threats, and the blatant racism poisoning a country born out of the ashes of communal conflicts and ethnic hatred. He was in the forefront in denouncing the matrix of violence that Bangladesh has been performing, with attacks on free thinkers and ‘minorities’ both by government agencies and religious extremists. This article is a homage to Azad’s creative interruptions and literary interventions against fear, anger, and those resentful feelings even among his university students and colleagues, invoking the ‘Talibanization’ of Bangladesh (Āmarā sabā’i hōbō Tālibān, Bānlā habē Āphagānistān). Given the quixotic, dangerous politics of those who Mishra calls the “bland fanatics”, now that the Taliban have seized power in Afghanistan and extremist forms of Islam dictate the country’s destiny, it is even more relevant to remember Humayun Azad’s writings that instill a culture of freedom in Bangladesh, based on the constitutional pillars, made increasingly fragile by political and environmental ‘crises’.

Author Biography

Mara Matta, University of Rome ‘Sapienza’

Mara Matta is Associate Professor of South Asian Studies at the University of Rome ‘Sapienza’, where she also coordinates the BA Degree in Global Humanities. She works on Tibetan and South Asian literature and cinema, focusing on marginalized communities, ethnic and religious ‘minorities’, politics of representation, and diasporic narratives. She is currently working on a book on the invisible bodies of the forcefully disappeared in Bangladesh through the words of Kalpana Chakma’s Diary.