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The Rohingya in Between Life and Death: A Case of "Subhuman"

Wednesday, October 16, 2019 at 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Wolff Conference Room, Room D1103, Albert and Vera List Academic Center 6 East 16th Street, New York, NY 10003, Room D1103

Anthropology Lecture by Nasir Uddin

The Rohingya, an ethno-linguistic and religious minority of Myanmar known as the most persecuted people in the world declared by the United Nations, recently underwent an unprecedented atrocity including indiscriminate killing, random rapes and massive burning of houses and properties perpetrated by Myanmar security forces and vigilantes in the name of clearance operation.

A three-member Independent Facts Finding Commission appointed by the United Nations came up with some critical figures in August 2018 that the brutal military crackdown in 2017 triggered an influx of 725,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh, more than 10,000 were killed on the ground in the first two months, hundreds of girls and women were ganged raped, and around 392 villages were partially or totally destroyed. Now Bangladesh hosts about 1.3 million Rohingyas including old and new arrivals in Ukhia and Teknaf refugee camps where they are “struggling for existence” as Myanmar does not recognize them as citizens and Bangladesh is not ready to accept them even as refugees. The intensity of brutality against the Rohingya people in Myanmar was so extreme that the UN Human Rights Council termed it as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and many others called it “genocide.” The narratives of the Rohingya who went through terrible experiences now living in refugee camps in Bangladesh reveal the horrible stories about how they were dealt with as if they are lesser than human beings what Uddin frames as “subhuman life.” The voices of the victims illuminate as if the Rohingya live in between life and death. This talk presents the first-hand narratives of the Rohingya refugees unfolding the atrocious living conditions of the Rohingya lives in the broader spectrum of the intricate relations of stateless, vulnerability, and refugeehood in the world.  

Presented by the Anthropology Department at The New School for Social Research, co-sponsored by Global Studies at the Lang College of Liberal Arts

Event Type

Lectures and Panel Discussions


Students, Alumni, Faculty, Staff, Prospective Students


The New School for Social Research, Department of Anthropology





Additional Details

Nasir Uddin is a cultural anthropologist based in Bangladesh, and Professor of Anthropology at Chittagong University. Currently, he is working as a Research Consultant with the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at SOAS, University of London. Uddin studied and carried out research at the University of Dhaka (Bangladesh), Kyoto University (Japan), the University of Hull (UK), Delhi School of Economics (India), Ruhr-University Bochum (Germany), VU University Amsterdam (the Netherlands), Heidelberg University (Germany), the London School of Economics (UK), SOAS of London University, and the University of Oxford (UK). His research interests include refugees, statelessness, and citizenship; deterritoriality of identity and transborder movements; indigeneity and identity politics; notions of power and the state in everyday life; borderlands between Bangladesh and Myanmar; the Rohingyas; the Chittagong Hill Tracts; and South Asia. His latest edited books are Life in Peace and Conflict: Indigeneity and the State in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (Orient BlackSwan, 2017), Indigeneity on the Move: Varying Manifestation of a Contested Concept (Berghahn, 2017 [co-edited with Eva Gerharz and Pradeep Chakkarath) and Deterritorialised Identity and Transborder Movement in South Asia (Springer, 2018 (co-edited with Nasreen Chowdhory). His forthcoming ethnography is The Rohingyas: A Case of “Subhuman” (Oxford University Press, 2019).

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