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Hossain, Naomi (2021) 'The geopolitics of bare life in 1970s Bangladesh.' Third World Quarterly, 42 (11). pp. 2706-2723.

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This article explores how the people and landscape of the Bay of Bengal came to be cast in terms of what Giorgio Agamben called ‘bare life’ – a people without the protection or mandate of sovereign law – in the international discourse of the early 1970s. This was a period marked in the emerging nation of Bangladesh by cyclone, war and famine. International actors were influenced by Malthusian notions of the need for ‘triage’ in relation to international food security, but also by counter-currents marked by a humanitarian impulse to aid this disaster-prone and populous poor country. This article discusses prominent examples of the framing of the Bangladesh development challenge as a Herculean effort of uncertain outcome, arguing that this framing licensed a kind of humanitarian experimentalism that has pervaded Bangladesh’s national development project, and shaped international development more broadly. Geopolitics exert biopower over the Bangladeshi population in new and different ways, but the nation state now exercises greater control over the conditions of bare life than in the 1970s, and is better able to protect its people.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Bangladesh, famine, bare life, Bhola cyclone, disaster, biopolitics
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Development Studies
ISSN: 01436597
Copyright Statement: This is the version of the article accepted for publication in Third World Quarterly, 42 (11). pp. 2706-2723 (2021), published by Taylor and Francis. Re-use is subject to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2023 08:48

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