Bennett Comerford, a second year Graduate Student Associate with the Mittal Institute, is a doctoral candidate in the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard University. His work focuses on the intersections of religion, literature, race and coloniality in nineteenth-century Bengal. He is a past recipient of language and research fellowships in Bangladesh and India. The Mittal Institute sat down to learn more about Bennett and his research.
Category : Bangladesh
The Mittal Institute recently concluded the 2020–2021 Visiting Artist Fellowship, which annually brings four mid-career visual artists to Cambridge to engage with Harvard faculty and students, participate in art exhibitions, and perform research using Harvard’s intellectual resources to further their art practice. Due to COVID-related programming changes this year, the fellowship was reimagined, bringing 13 of the top applicants from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal to the virtual world for a series of four online seminars curated to support the artists’ long-term practice. In these courses, the artists participated in thought-provoking discussions centering on art history, creative writing, urban design, and more, with both their peers and the expert facilitating the class. For the final installment of the VAF Lecture Series, the Mittal Institute welcomed Asim Waqif, a Delhi-based artist whose international work revolves around architecture, ecology and design.
In a conversation with the Mittal Institute this week, Naiza Khan, a visual artist who splits her time between London and Karachi, explored the impact of the pandemic on her creative processes and methods of making art. This past year, COVID-19 drastically changed the landscape of possibilities for modes of working and presented new opportunities to engage in making work alongside other artists.
Bangladesh gained independence from Pakistan in 1971. To mark 50 years of Bangladesh’s independence, the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute at Harvard University held a virtual conference, “Bangladesh @ 50: Looking Back, Looking Forward” on March 3 and 4, 2021. The conference highlighted the arc of Bangladesh’s history from the Language Movement through the Liberation War to the present – and the future.
We spoke with one of the experts who participated in the “Economic Development: From ‘Basket Case’ to Emerging Economy” panel, Sajeda Amin, Senior Associate at the Population Council in New York, about her years of work with women’s empowerment in Bangladesh. Sajeda Amin conducts intervention research on empowerment programs for girls and women and writes about the role of education and work opportunities in girls’ and women’s lives. She has designed and implemented interventions to prevent violence and child marriage by empowering adolescent girls and has studied their outcomes in Bangladesh, India, Mali, Malawi, and Niger.
We spoke with one of the speakers who will participate in the “Political Development: Making, Unmaking, and Rebuilding of Founding Principles” panel, Rounaq Jahan, Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue in Bangladesh, about the political history of Bangladesh, and what needs to be done to push forward in the future. Previously, she served as a Professor of Political Science at Dhaka University and a Senior Research Scholar and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University.
The profound and inspirational work of our artists has not stopped despite the COVID-19 pandemic. In this magazine, we spoke with each of our fellows to discuss the inspiration behind their career as an artist, what they hope to learn during their time as a Visiting Artist Fellow, and their thoughts on the artwork they have each presented in this magazine. In the magazine’s pages, you will read the artists’ thoughts on these subjects in their own words, and we hope that it will inspire you to enter their world and see their work through their eyes.
View a virtual gallery of the artwork from our 13 2020-2021 Visiting Artist Fellows from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal.
Video: The Labor of Fashion, the Global COVID-19 Crisis, and the Politics of Resistance in Bangladesh
Through the lens of a contemporary case study, the panelists explore the geopolitics of how vaccines are developed, the funding and distribution methods that are critical to the effort, and the global alliances that facilitate this in the world today, focusing on the South Asia context. They discuss the mechanics and commerce of vaccine development and the critical role that science and business can play in combating pandemics such as COVID-19.