Modernism:An attempt to “return home”

Bangladesh was formed as a separate nation in 1971 as an aftermath of war with Pakistan .The country has faced a trichotomy with the colonial culture imposed by the British rulers,with the Pakistani -islamic ideology and their attempt to retain their Bengali culture.When we try to understand India ,the colonial rule is  the beginning point in understanding the contemporary conditions in the country.So,when we try to understand Bangladesh it poses a dilemma as it wasn’t just the colonial rule that left a rupture between the precolonial culture and the colonial conditions but also the introduction of aggressive Islamic ideology post 1947 that posed a threat to their Bengali identity.While the British colonialism affected the economic conditions,the Pakistani conditions created a disruption between the native spirituality and ideological version of Islam.Its in such chaos that the nation tried to enter the 21st century .At such a time the main point of query becomes is what to retain and what to abandon.

Muzharul Islam,the first certified architect of the country gave the nation it’s identity in the time where they were fighting to have one.He believed in going away from the immediate colonial past and returning to an environment that was free from religious biases, traumatic inheritances,propagandist symbolisms and pretentious iconography.Even though he identified with Bengali culture he didn’t personify it through any traditional motifs or iconography which makes you question the way India made it’s move into the 21st century.What do we identify ourselves with is not clear through the architecture that we have created around us .

For most Asian societies modernism is often conveniently seen as an idea or concept that is pit against a ‘pre modern’ condition that is tradition.In Muzharul Islam’s principles it’s an attempt to undo the colonialist rupture or the Islamic aggressiveness and to be a true ‘Bengali’ in mind ,spirit and practice.So in a way it’s an attempt to ‘return home.’That makes me question what about the space that I live in makes it ‘Indian’ or what is it be an Indian in mind ,spirit and practice?

In my next blog I will be writing about some of Muzharul Islam’s work that I have seen and will be seeing in the coming week.



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