Bengaliness, Hindu nationalism and Bangladeshi migrants in West Bengal, India

Rizwana Shamshad

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Hindu nationalists made migration from Bangladesh an election campaign in West Bengal during the 1990s. Although there were various allegations against Bangladeshi migration, it never became a mainstream political issue in the state, like in neighbouring Assam. West Bengal shares the longest border with Bangladesh, compared to any other Indian state, and hosts a large number of Bangladeshi migrants, according to the Census reports in India. West Bengal and Bangladesh share a common ethnicity, both are predominantly Bengali. Can this shared Bengaliness explain why Bangladeshi migration did not become a divisive political issue in the state? If this sameness is a bonding factor, what about the Ghoti-Bangal differences? Drawn from in-depth interviews with the representatives of West Bengal's key civil society organisations and political parties, I argue that a particular historical and cultural process, unique to West Bengal and Bangladesh, has shaped the current attitude towards Bangladeshi migrants in the state.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)433-451pp
    JournalAsian Ethnicity
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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