Séminaire Annu Jalais (National University of Singapore) : The Human and the Nonhuman: ‘socio-environmental’ ecotones, hidden histories and ghosts from the Bengali heartland

India’s 1947 Partition and the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 saw the displacement and resettling of thousands of Bengalis, both Hindu and Muslim. This resulted in profound transformations across the region. A third of the region’s population sought shelter across new borders, almost all of them resettling in the Bengal delta itself. Dealing with the largely understudied experience of the many marginalised and understudied minority communities that remained within the Bengal delta, but nonetheless moved village and sometimes region, this presentation focuses on the reasons for the major gaps in historical and contemporary empirical knowledge about this subaltern group. I shall do this by presenting some of these hidden histories and recent stories such as Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh to uncover aspects of caste identity and relations with nonhumans, and why it is important we uncover them when making sense of today’s transnational migrant communities.


Dr. Annu Jalais is an environmental anthropologist with an area of specialisation in South Asia (especially Bangladesh and India); she is Assistant Professor at the National University of Singapore. Her interdisciplinary research and teaching expertise focuses on the relationship between humans and nonhumans; religious and caste identities; climate change and the environment.
Her work on human / nonhuman relations in the ecologically fragile environment of the Bengal delta, has been written up in her monograph, Forest of Tigers: People, Politics and Environment in the Sundarbans (2010) and in peer-reviewed articles. Her more recent writings explore South-South migration amongst subaltern communities in the Bengal delta in her co-authored book, The Bengal Diaspora: Rethinking Muslim Migration (2016) as well as the human/nonhuman interface in Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam in China, India and Singapore. For more on her publications, please visit: academia.edu: https://nus.academia.edu/AnnuJalais


Séminaire animé par Judith Misrahi-Barak