Syed Alif Shahed

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Toronto, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10725

Approve Date

April 15, 2024

Project Title

Shahed, Syed (Toronto, U. of) "Religion, Secularism, and the Politics of Heritage in Bangladesh: Durga Puja in the City of Dhaka"

My dissertation tackles cultural practices of secularism in modern day Bangladesh, looking particularly at Durga Puja. I aim to analyze the way in which secularism forms the foundation for postcolonial law in Bangladesh, and how secularism as a nationalist ideal is key to the ruling party’s governance of religious minorities. Second, I hope to explore the way in which these secular aspirations manifest themselves into contemporary cultural practices and aid in the formation of an intellectual class of secularists. I am particularly interested in how minority religious practices become sites where “the secular” manifests itself to project non-communal identities, and the way in which fully “secular” traditions are practiced almost religiously. Thus, I aim to explore the vexed relationship between the unstable “people” and the “state” in their practices of secularism in the face of communal violence and majoritarianism.