Dipu Moni,Foreign Minister of Bangladesh
with Ruhul Abid, Assistant Professor, Brown University Warren Alpert Medical School M. Shawkat Razzaque, , Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School and Dental School
and Richard Cash, Senior Lecturer on Global Health, Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health
Arthur Kleinman,Esther and Sidney Rabb Professor, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University and Professor of Medical Anthropology in Global Health and Social Medicine and Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School Jennifer Leaning,Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, Harvard School of Public Health; Director, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University; Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
John Wood,founder and board co-chair of Room to Read
Chair: Fernando Reimers, Ford Foundation Professor of International Education and Director of Global Education and of International Education Policy at Harvard University
Over 60 million primary school-aged children around the world do not have access to education and most likely will never learn to read or write. Room to Read believes that all children, regardless of gender or background, have a right to education. By empowering children through this lifelong gift, we see a world in which people are able to realize their full potential.
Atiur Rahman,Central Bank Governor of Bangladesh
Chair: Tarun Khanna, Director, South Asia Institute; Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School
Dr. Atiur Rahman is a renowned economist who was appointed as the 10th Governor of Bangladesh Bank on May 1, 2009. Prior to his appointment, he was a Professor in the Department of Development Studies, University of Dhaka, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Shamannay, a centre for research and development in Bangladesh. He was also Chairman of Board of Directors of Unnayan Shamannay, a non-profit organization for research, development and cultural learning. His previous roles also include Director of Sonali Bank, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Janata Bank, and a long tenure as a Senior Research Fellow at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS). He has also done extensive published research on the micro-finance revolution in Bangladesh and was Chairman of the Credit Development Forum (CDF) for many years.
Chair: Rahul Mehrotra, Professor of Urban Planning and Design and Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design
The city of Dhaka is one of the largest, most dense urban masses in the world. Its population is projected to reach 20 million by 2015, and its land is projected to be mainly under water by 2050. Its location on a delta with pockets of land enclosed in pockets of water has led to great urbanization challenges – Dhaka’s city planners must wrestle with where and how to build residential and industrial structures responsibly to meet the needs of this precarious urban situation.
Farooq Ameen of City Design Studio in Los Angeles shared some of the current interventions that are underway to deal with mobility among the disjointed sectors of the city, to integrate natural elements into building projects, and finally, to protect the heritage sites of old Dhaka that are quickly being encroached upon. He also spoke about the difficult administrative and political hurdles to initiating further urban improvements in Dhaka.
Professors and students inquired as to whether any similar interventions have been made in the areas of public health, sanitation and climate change, and whether or not wealthy inhabitants of the city felt any particular stake in these issues when it comes to helping direct resources. Farooq remarked that some NGOs have been involved in these efforts, and that climate change is starting to enter the public discourse, but very slowly. Sahjabin Kabir, Architect in Bangladesh and current GSD student, remarked that there is no public awareness about these issues among anyone in the city – rich or poor. Awareness must be raised so that the government can be held accountable for the decisions it makes.
Chaired by Asad Ahmed, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University
Yasmin Saikia, Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies, Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict; Professor of History in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, Arizona State University
The scholarship on post-conflict resolution is growing and the new questions and discourses on peacemaking forefront non-western perspectives. Although the earlier focus of scholarship on the usefulness of truth and reconciliation commission, war criminals tribunal, implementation of human rights and international monitoring remains relevant, there is also a need to move beyond these existing models to explore the alternative indigenous language of justice derived from other sources, such as religion and culture. This exercise is particularly relevant in the context of postcolonial South Asia where religion and ethnicity have played divisive roles in enabling violence.
In this paper, I focus on the memories of survivors – victims and perpetrators – of the 1971 war of Bangladesh raising fundamental questions of peacemaking from an Islamic perspective. Highlighting the historical construction of an ‘enemy’ that was victimized during the war, I probe perpetrators’ understanding of violence that is differentiated from “duty” and the religious grammar of peace that suggests an alternative thinking beyond violence. Paying particular attention to the concept of insāniyat, humanity, that survivors recall was lost in violence, I examine what perpetrators deem gunah (sin) and their desire to do tauba (repent) for delivering insāf (justice). Emphasizing survivors’ renewed humanistic understanding based on religion, I ask: In what ways can survivors’ alternative discourses open the space for dialogue for writing larger histories of peace in the region? Can the religio-cultural vocabularies of repentance, tauba, and principles of justice, insāf, based on the concept of haqq (rights) serve for peacemaking between Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India? Is religio-cultural method of peacemaking relevant and useful for restorative justice of huquq al-ibād, rights of people? What are its implications for decolonizing the notions of justice and rights in the subcontinent?
Home to nearly a sixth of humanity, the birthplace of many of the world’s great religions and philosophies, and now a hotbed for innovation and technological change, South Asia is truly the world’s laboratory, a space where we can experiment with the world’s most urgent challenges. Join leading academics from Harvard University in a discussion of the timely appeal of South Asia to the humanities—at the intersection of religion and civil society, ancient arts and cutting edge technologies. Our guest speakers will challenge you – Is Pakistan really Islamic? The Taj Mahal: What’s the Attraction? – and share with you the latest research and inquiry on South Asia from Harvard.