ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

What Is Going On in Bangladeshi Universities? Understanding the production of docile subjectivity in terms of Foucault’s microphysics of power


Mahmud Hasan - Northwestern University, Liberal Arts, Doha, Qatar


18 – Deviant Bodies, Prohibited Territories and Academia in South Asia


 University plays a central role in social mobility by offering higher education and professional career for the youth in predominantly agriculturally dependent population in Bangladesh. It has also been a site for resistance against undemocratic politics and cultural mobilization towards democratic progress. However, recent cases of brutality by the student wing of the ruling party indicate a new development in university campuses, especially in the student dormitories, whereby students’ political and cultural engagement have come under surveillance and control resulting in generalized silence against oppression, unconditional obedience to authoritarian rule and elimination of hope. Using Foucault’s microphysics of power, this study explores power in the social relations in university campuses, the discourses and institutions that articulate such power, and different strategies that integrate those social relations, discourses, and institutions. Based on 22 interviews with students living in the dormitories in one of the leading universities in Bangladesh, this study recognizes technologies of power, power-knowledge relations, and changing strategies for structuring and deploying power relations. The findings are used to understand how the current form of governance in university campuses contributed to the authoritarian regime by producing docile bodies incapable of independent and progressive thoughts and action.