Md Saifuddin Al Quaderi
A two day long international conference was organised to celebrate the bicentenary of Karl Marx’s birthday titled ‘Language, Literature, Culture and Politics: Marx’s Bicentenary Conference’ on Friday November 30-December 1, 2018.
The event took place at ULAB’s Dhanmondi campus, covering a range of interdisciplinary themes and focusing on the correlation of Marxist views in the contemporary world.
With words by the National Professor Rafiqul Islam, the conference was inaugurated, this was followed by a speech from Professor Serajul Islam Chowdhury, Professor Emeritus of Dhaka University, who described a vivid historical context of Marx and how he influences the Indian subcontinent and the literature. The inaugural ceremony came to an end with Professor Shamsad Mortuza giving a vote of thanks.
Following the opening ceremony, Dr Bret Benjamin of State University of New York came on a live session from the US through Skype and delivered his keynote presentation on “Living amidst the Catastrophes of ‘the Living Contradiction’: Theses on Marx at 200”. Here, he explicated how we are still finding ourselves living in the ‘contradiction’ as described by Marx himself. He added that Marx’s criticism of eco-political structure is at the centre of the economic, political, social, and ecological crises that we face now. Furthermore, he said that core features of Marx’s critique remain relevant not only to an analysis of the living present, but also remain the necessary preconditions for any humane conception of a life after capitalism.
Later on, further light was strobed on to nuances of ‘The Living Contradiction’ by Professor Anu Muhammad of Jahangirnagar University’s Department of Economics when he chaired the session, as described by Dr Benjamin and linked the keynote speech to the Bangladeshi context.
Afterwards, Professor Salimullah Khan presented a Fanonian reading of Marx titled ‘Marx after Fanon: Whatever Happened to Alienation?’ In his presentation, Professor Salimullah Khan discussed the similarities between Karl Marx and Franz Fanon and about the way they both understood the world through marginalized existences. In Fanon’s case it was his blackness, and in Marx’s case it was his Jewishness that drove their views, the ULAB professor added.
During the finishing hours of the day a panel discussion was held on ‘Marxism, Literature and Culture in Bangladesh’, chaired by North South University’s Professor Khaliquzzaman Elias, and with Prothom Alo Assistant Editor Faruk Wasif and Dhaka University’s Associate Professor Mohammad Azam as discussants.
A session by ULAB’s Arts and Humanities Faculty Dean Professor Kaiser Haq on Creative Explorations of Marx titled ‘Karl Marx vs Nux Vomica 200’ and ‘Selected Poems’ marked the ending of the day. To add to this, a number of parallel sessions were going on where 19 academicians from different universities presented findings from their academic work.