Title Paradoxes of the Popular
Subtitle Crowd Politics in Bangladesh
Author Nusrat Sabina Chowdhury
ISBN 9781503609471
List price GBP 21.99
Price outside India Available on Request
Original price
Binding Paperback
No of pages 264
Book size 153 x 229 mm
Publishing year 2019
Original publisher Stanford University Press (Combined Academic Publishers)
Published in India by .
Exclusive distributors Viva Books Private Limited
Sales territory India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, .
Status New Arrival
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“Theorists of democracy and public life have long been unsettled by the unstable energy of popular assemblies—their capacity both to destroy and create, to betray authority and imagine it anew. Chowdhury’s bold, compelling analysis, in contrast, puts the paradoxical power of the street at the center of Bangladeshi history: the spontaneous crowd, she shows, is the very embodiment of popular sovereignty, conjuring the volatile fervor and the ‘imperceptible politics’ that fuel mass democracy, not only in South Asia, but way beyond.”

Jean Comaroff, Harvard University


“Chowdhury’s fascinating ethnography of popular protest in Bangladesh will resonate far beyond her home discipline of anthropology. Paradoxes of the Popular makes an essential contribution to the study of crowd politics in the international contexts of modern mass democracy.”

Jason Frank, Robert J. Katz Chair of Government, Cornell University


“Richly ethnographic, this study of an environmental movement in Bangladesh takes a fresh and contemporary look at the role of the crowd in democratic politics, distinguishing it from the citizen and the people. Focusing on such everyday phenomena as money, ID cards, accidents, and social media, Nusrat Chowdhury provides unusual glimpses into emotions such as hope, despair, opportunism, and fear that animate crowds assembled for political action.”

Partha Chatterjee, Columbia University


Few places are as politically precarious as Bangladesh, even fewer as crowded. Its 57,000 or so square miles are some of the world’s most inhabited. Often described as a definitive case of the bankruptcy of postcolonial governance, it is also one of the poorest among the most densely populated nations. In spite of an overriding anxiety of exhaustion, there are a few important caveats to the familiar feelings of despair—a growing economy, and an uneven, yet robust, nationalist sentiment—which, together, generate revealing paradoxes. In this book, Nusrat Sabina Chowdhury offers insight into what she calls “the paradoxes of the popular,” or the constitutive contradictions of popular politics. The focus here is on mass protests, long considered the primary medium of meaningful change in this part of the world. Chowdhury writes provocatively about political life in Bangladesh in a rich ethnography that studies some of the most consequential protests of the last decade, spanning both rural and urban Bangladesh. By making the crowd its starting point and analytical locus, this book tacks between multiple sites of public political gatherings and pays attention to the ephemeral and often accidental configurations of the crowd. Ultimately, Chowdhury makes an original case for the crowd as a defining feature and a foundational force of democratic practices in South Asia and beyond.


Notes on Translation and Transliteration



Chapter 1. Picture-Thinking

Chapter 2. Seeing Like a Crowd

Chapter 3. Accidental Politics

Chapter 4. Crowds and Collaborators

Chapter 5. The Body of the Crowd



Works Cited


About the Author:

Nusrat Sabina Chowdhury is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Amherst College.

Target Audience:

People interested in anthropology, politics, democracy and understanding the political culture of Bangladesh.


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