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Bangladesh 1971: viewing war and resistance from below

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The Bangladesh war of independence against Pakistan in 1971 was a bloody conflict that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands.
Issue 2097
Bangladeshi women marching for independence
Bangladeshi women marching for independence

The Bangladesh war of independence against Pakistan in 1971 was a bloody conflict that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

Bangladesh 1971 is a new exhibition of over 100 photographs from the period, many of which have never been shown before.

Shahidul Alam, director of the Drik picture library in Dhaka and a curator of the current exhibition, spent over two decades collecting the photographs.

All were taken by ordinary people in Bangladesh, many of who were not professional photographers but simply people caught up in the war. This leads to an intimate and unique portrayal of the war.

Some photographs reflect the spirit of resistance to Pakistan. Women are shown to be an integral part of the independence movement.

Other images deal with the complexities of the fighting and the devastation of the country that war left in its wake. The scale of the slaughter only became apparent after the war was over.

The history of Bangladesh is tied to the history of British imperialism.

After the East India Company took control of Bengal, the British made several attempts to divide it, eventually succeeding when India was partitioned in 1947.

For Bangladesh, ravaged by the war of independence, political turmoil and poverty, it has been a difficult task to reconstruct its own history.

It is only during the last few years that this important Bangladeshi photographic history has begun to emerge.

Bangladesh 1971
Autograph ABP & Drik picture library Rivington Place, east London
Until 31 May

For more information go to » www.rivingtonplace.org

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