Word reaches this blog of a brand spanking new seminar series from the Brick Lane Circle. I’ve spoken at one of these before and it’s always a good night out of thoughtful discussion. Readers may like to take note that the regular commentor to this blog mixtogether appears on 2nd April speaking about marriage (what else?) on a day that happens to be my birthday. Tie a knot in your hair pronto!


Seminars on Bangladesh


and Bangladeshis Abroad


Every Thursday, 7-9pm, 22 January – 9 April 2009

Lab 5, Idea Store Whitechapel

321 Whitechapel Rd, London E1 1BU


22 January

Tea for the Raj: A History of Tea in Assam and Sylhet

By Roy Moxham.  He recently retired from the University of London.  His most well-known book is The Great Hedge of India, part-travelogue, part-historical treatise on the author’s quest to find a 1500-mile long customs hedge built by the British in India to prevent smuggling of salt and opium. His second book, Tea: Addiction, Exploitation and Empire focuses on the effect of British tea addiction on British policies in Asia and Africa, and includes the author’s own experience as a tea plantation manager in Africa.


29 January

The Global Financial Crisis and Implications for Developing Countries like Bangladesh

By Professor Mushtaq Khan, Professor of  economics at School of African and Oriental Studies.  He was born in Dhaka in 1961, completed his undergraduate studies in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Oxford and then won a scholarship for his PhD studies in Economics at Cambridge. Previously he taught at the universities of both Oxford and Cambridge. Information about his research interests and publications are available on his website: http://mercury.soas.ac.uk/users/mk17/.


5 February

“Valuing Family, Valuing Work: British Muslim women and the labour market”

By Zamila Bunglawala.  She is a Senior Policy Analyst at HMG DIUS and Fellow at the Young Foundation.  Zamila has previously worked with the UN in Darfur and Kathmandu on conflict issues, the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit and Open Society Institute on UK labour market policies for faith and ethnic minority communities.  She will speak on the findings of her new book as above detailing the reality of religious discrimination and low employment levels for UK born British Muslim women, including from Bangladeshi backgrounds.


12 February

Community and Institutional Adaptation to Riverbank Erosion along the Jamuna River, Bangladesh

By Fuad Ali.  He is a PhD student in the Department of Geography at King’s College London, previously he studied Physics at Imperial College. He is Projects Coordinator at IMASE (www.imase.org), a constellation of Muslims who are interested in the society, development and learning; and Senior Researcher at Youth Think, a research organisation focusing on youth.  The problem of river erosion in Bangladesh is a key technological and social challenge for Bangladeshis today, as it has been for decades. Annoyed with fatalistic and at times opportunistic climate change propaganda from one side, and religious platitudes about science and civilisation from another, Fuad (flukely) won an interdisciplinary research grant and went about investigating.


19 February

Celebrating Bangla – past and future

By Dr Hanne -Ruth Thompson.  She spent almost four years in Bangladesh in the early 90s and her encounter with the Bangla language had a profound effect on her life / work.  In 1999 her first book Essential Every Bengali was published in Dhaka. She then went on to do a PhD on Bangla grammar at SOAS in London under the supervision of William Radice. Now she divides her time between teaching Bangla at SOAS and writing a Comprehensive Bengali Grammar for Routledge. She has also written a Practical Bengali Dictionary for Hippocrene in New York.


26 February

A panel discussion on A Bangladeshi Obama in the UK?


Benjamin Zeitlyn.  He lived in Bangladesh as a child and has a degree in geography and development studies, and a master’s degree in migration studies from the University of Sussex.  During his master’s degree he researched the Bangladeshi community in Madrid.  He has also worked in Bangladesh at the Refugee and Migratory Research Unit, attached to the University of Dhaka. There he was able to research migration to Spain and Italy from the Bangladeshi perspective.


Ruhana Ali.  She has been working as a community organiser for The East London Communities’ Organisation (TELCO) on social justice campaigns including safer streets and the London Living Wage. She has trained with the Citizen Organising Foundation in the UK; a sister organisation of the Industrial Areas Foundation in America where Obama trained and worked. She graduated from the London School of Economics and strongly feels that young people should take an active role and engage in civic life. She has also worked as a teacher, journalist and television presenter.


Asif Saleh. He recently retired from his post as Vice President at Goldman Sachs in London to be the full-time Executive director of Drishtipat, a Bangladesh human rights organization he founded in 2001.  Drishtipat is an active force in the Bangladesh diaspora, with branches in eight cities on four continents, and numerous programs and fundraising initiatives that focus on human rights and humanitarian relief.  Drishtipat’s blog has been named one of the most influential in Bangladesh by The Daily Star, and its Writers’ Collective are frequent contributors to print media.


5 March

Evolution of Architectural practice in Bangladesh

By Hafizul Hasan.  He is an Assistant Professor, Architecture Department, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.  He graduated from BUET in 1989 and in 2003   completed his studies on Urban Environmental Management from Asian Institute and Technology.  In 2006 he completed a postgraduate program on Disaster Management from BRAC University.  He worked as a consultant for  AKAR design, Global Architect, Thai Airways, HSBC, British American Tobacco, Lever Brothers, Grameen Phone, Prime Bank, Premier Bank, Basundhara Group.  Currently, he is studying at Greenwich University on Construction Management and Economics.


12 March

International Volunteering and the Bangladeshi Diaspora

By Sandra Kabir, Executive Director of BRAC UK, and Jebi Rahman, Programme Officer for Porishod, BRAC UK’s Diaspora Volunteer Programme for British Bangladeshi Professionals.  The programme is supported by DFID and VSO, who found that Diaspora communities are underrepresented in international volunteering when they could be playing a key role in development awareness.  Sandra, whose extensive career in development began in Bangladesh in 1976, and Jebi, whose first experience of volunteering and visiting schools in Bangladesh in 2004 led her to further study an MSc in Comparative and International Education (Oxford University) discuss this and other issues surrounding the initiative and invite returned volunteers to share their experiences and opinions. 


19 March

“Whose language is it anyway?” English Language and Access: The Case of Bangladeshis in London

By Dr Ferhana Hashem.  She is a Research Fellow at the University of Kent, currently working on a Nuffield Foundation Small Grants funded research project entitled ‘What kind of language service should public authorities provide to minority groups: the case of Bangladeshis in London’. She has recently completed research on a two-year ESRC research project, which explored ‘Ethnic Options of Mixed Race Identity’ in Britain.  Ferhana completed her doctorate in political sociology in 2003, which examined Bengal Muslim identity in the Indian subcontinent.


26 March

ENGLADESH  – screening of photo documentary exploring the impact of migration to Britain on Sylhet 

By Photojournalist Sam Strickland. He will present and discuss his ongoing   documentary examining how migration to Britain is transforming Sylhet and the UK. Engladesh began as a photojournalism MA thesis (London College of Communication).  Sam’s interest in photography grew from his degree in history and journalism at Queen Mary & City University in London.  He has since photographed for the National Portrait Gallery, charities in the UK, Uganda and Bangladesh and various magazines. Engladesh (first cut) is online at www.engladesh.com


2 April

A panel discussion on The Future of Bangladeshi Marriage in the UK?


Sapnara Khatun.  She read law at the LSE and was called to the Bar and has been in practice since 1990.  Appointed as Judge – Recorder of the Crown in 2006.  In 2003 she was appointed to the government’s Family Justice Council to advise on all aspects of family justice system.  She has also advised on and drafted the new Forced Marriage Act and plays an active role in the boards of many voluntary and charitable organisations.


Ashley Chisholm.  He set up MixTogether.org three years ago.  Run entirely by volunteers in their spare time, the website offers a safe place for mixed race and    religion couples to speak to each other and try to resolve problems with their families. Ashley works full time as an accountant in the City.


Shelina Zahra Janmohamed. She is a commentator with a focus on British Islam, writing regularly for The Muslim News and Emel magazine and also mainstream press such as The Guardian.  Shelina writes her own blog at http://www.spirit21.co.uk and appears regularly on TV and radio to comment on Islam, Muslim and Muslim women’s issues..  She was born in London, studied at New College (University of Oxford) and works in the technology Industry.  Shelina is about to publish her first book in February 2009 entitled ‘Love in a headscarf’ (www.loveinaheadscarf.com).


9 April

Special Networking Event / Comedy Evening

A number of organsiations will make short presentations about projects they are running, followed by an exciting evening of stand up comedy acts by MIXT NUTZ COMEDY.


For details: 07903 671787, bricklanecircle@yahoo.co.uk