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"'Who is this Nazrul?' Cross-border Perplexities in the Study of a Bengali Literary-Cultural Hero."

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at 4:30pm to 6:00pm

McGraw Hall, American Studies Wing, Mezzanine Room 101 (enter from north side of the building, between first and second floors)

This talk focuses on the "rebel poet" Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976), who is famed for his poems of 1920s-30s Bengal -- poetry that was fiercely anti-colonial; critical of bigotry, prejudice, communalism, and social injustice; and, by the late 1930s, expressive of devotion to Allah, Kali, and Krishna.  Both beloved and highly controversial in his own day, Nazrul is claimed by the present state of West Bengal in India and by Bangladesh, in the former as a symbol of secularism and in the latter as the National Poet.  Determining the contemporary legacy of this culturally integrated poet and personality brings us to ask an uncomfortable question: has the poet become bifurcated, along with the political and geographic divisions of formerly undivided Bengal?

Event Type



Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Comparative Muslim Societies Program, South Asia Program




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Contact Name

Eric Tagliacozzo


Rachel Fell McDermott

Speaker Affiliation

Professor, Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures, Barnard College, Columbia University

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