About the Archive
The term ‘displacement’ invokes myriad political and philosophical contemplations. In many ways, the complexities of displacement have been removed over time from widely accepted definitions of the term with regards to human bodies. It is a much more layered and insidious process than what is accepted- that is, a movement of something or someone from their place or position. With displacement comes both a loss for what is left behind and an intrusion of a foreign presence. Anthropocentric displacements, which is the movement of people from their historical homelands and traditional ways of life, occur for various reasons.
In this archive, we aim to document the anthropocentric reasons behind the forced movement of people- bodies, from their place or position. Displacements are not voluntary, and discounting natural disasters, they invariably unfold with a larger ideology which guides them. These ideologies, of nation-building, development, statehood, identity and exclusion, all result to instances of violent interactions between the displaced and those carrying out the displacement. According to Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC), “Internal displacement refers to the forced movement of people within the country they live in.” IDMC also says, “Internal displacement can be caused by multiple and overlapping factors. In such contexts it can be even more difficult to unpack the root causes of displacement and find solutions to it”. The UN Refugee Agency says, “Internally displaced people (IDPs) have not crossed a border to find safety. Unlike refugees, they are on the run at home”. Displacement also forces separation from patterns of language, of ritual, of food and music, of local knowledge production and inheritance, and the assimilation that displaced peoples are obliged to undergo can lead to the gradual extinction of their cultures and erasures of their histories.
This project aims to archive cases of displacement that are occurring, that have occurred and that will occur in these periphery economies on a global scale. By beginning our process of archiving from Bangladesh, a nation undergoing rapid and violent transformations, the archive attempts to spread out to include numerous instances of forced displacements from around the world. The archiving process uses a combination of ethnography and secondary research. It is the process of ethnography that will distinguish this archival project from others. This will highlight the disparities between the micro and macro narratives provided by those who are directly involved in the displacement, as well as documenting the existence of organized resistance, which is often glossed over in developmental and nationalist discourse.
This archive will remember the experience of people threatened with displacement.Further, it will not only compile all information and historical documentation surrounding events of displacement, but map new information and existing documentation onto the system of power enabling, and being reinforced by, displacement. The existing relationships of power, between the different kinds of information, the different narratives, will be highlighted, and subverted through the prioritizing of the information and narratives provided by the less powerful. The archive will create a window into current debates, common concerns and useful strategies in thinking and organizing spaces that are attempting to build a different kind of politics. This archive tries to apprehend the lived reality of displacements and its excuses on the affected ground as well as the narratives provided by the relevant authorities and institutions to the media etc in order to bring into the center voices that have been pushed to the peripheries of our global, local and collective imaginations.
Even as neoliberalism, in order to subsume and dampen radical critique, adjusts its paradigm to a ‘kinder development’ focused on ‘poverty alleviation’ and ‘women empowerment’, the old models continue to be dumped on peripheral economies like Bangladesh. Previously imposed through conditional loans and funds, discourse tying in neoliberal development with ‘progress’ and ‘modernization’ (the old inferiority complexes of the post-colony) has grown so strong that governments in the third world now themselves pursuing big development projects for the legitimacy they provide.
The sacrifice for ‘progress’ and ‘modernization’, is a heavy one, and is always borne by the most oppressed, most disposable bodies in a society – women and gender deviants, ethnic and religious minorities, and cross-cuttingly, the poor. Huge tracts of land are required for the construction of power plants, economic zones, dams, etc. and those who are most easily silenced and invisibilizedare most easily coerced (by old colonial land acquisition laws, misinformation, brute force, etc.) into giving up their land.
As the ‘first world’ continues on its track of appropriating surplus value from the ‘third world’ while superficially holding on to semblances of democracy, rights and environmentalism, their experiments unfold with disastrous consequences in the geographies that lie outside of their habitation. Here, nations develop with brutal ideologies, citizens are crafted via national ideologies and rhetoric that disavows plurality and at the forefront of this upheaval are the bodies of displaced individuals and communities, who are, in the literal sense, the by-products of modernity. That human-driven displacement takes place in specific sites indicates that these bodies do not fit in the overarching ideology of the nation-state that displaces them. These ideologies range from globalisation to radical nationalisms to the creation of fundamental state-sanctioned religions. Trampled under the speed of these developments of nation-making in the peripheral economies, these bodies are a prime example of the idea that prosperity for some comes only at the expense of others.
Women and feminine people are generally hit hardest by displacement, as they tend to be offered less well paid and riskier wage labor, and are often forced into sex work. Displacement also forces separation from patterns of language, of ritual, of food and music, of local knowledge production and inheritance, and the assimilation that displaced peoples are obliged to undergo can lead to the gradual extinction of their cultures and erasures of their histories.
Deemed irrelevant in the calculations of national governments with nationalist aspirations, local peoples threatened with displacement are frequently led to organize movements to reclaim power. Strategies for organizing vary across different contexts, and these movements range from being highly organized and long-lasting, with a large number of national and international allies, to being small, relatively unorganized, and quickly stamped out.
Project Coordination: Ahmad Ibrahim and Mohymeen Layes
Research: Ahmad Ibrahim
Archiving: Maliha Mohsin, Muhammad Al Mahdi Hasan, Ahmad Ibrahim, Jakaria Hossain Onimesh, Riedwan Aritro, Shanaj Parvin Jonaki, Safieh Grace Kabir, Anishta Khan
Graphic Design: Md Ata Mojlish
Web Design: Maliha Mohsin
Web Development: Maliha Mohsin, Ahmad Ibrahim, Jakaria Hossain Onimesh
Started in 2013, Center for Bangladesh Studies (CBS) is a new and growing national level think-tank organization working with a multidisciplinary approach, doing advocacy and public education activities dedicated to generate and advance knowledge and intellectual resources in the areas of democracy, governance, development and social justice. CBS strives to infuse the social, political and economic spheres with contextual knowledge and praxis. It aims to influence the overall discursive and cultural patterns in Bangladesh towards a more democratic polity, economy, society and culture. Registered under the trust law of Bangladesh, CBS is a social research charity strives to build solidarity among the progressive actors home and abroad through public interest research, networking and advocacy.