Mela- Alexander

An article just appeared on mela which I had not seen when writing about mela films in Global South Asia on screen, but it looks pretty much on point when in the end it:

“argues for the need to build questions of history and of power back in to our understanding of diaspora, without falling back on reductive and essentialised tropes of ethnicity, religion or origin. The arguments are fourfold: first, that the Mela enacts powerful imaginative and emotional ties to idealised notions of ‘home’ and ‘origins’ in Bangladesh among British Bengalis; second, that rather than simply replicating essentialised ideas of Bengali identity and culture, the contemporary shape and significance of these events must be placed within a more locally situated context and (hi)story, conjuring multiple points and moments of emergence and affiliation; third, that these rituals recreate the borders of ‘community’ identity in the UK through appeals to shared national history, experience and ‘culture’ and in so doing generate new borders of inclusion and exclusion (marked particularly through a religious/secular divide and its gendered and generational consequences); and fourth, that these events incorporate multiple histories and (con)temporalities, opening up these sites as demotic spaces of encounter, dialogue and conflict that challenge and unsettle bordering processes”

 

The rest of the article leading up to this is a great survey of the literature on bengali diaspora in the UK. Have a look: here

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