Of Erasure and Resistance: Negotiating History and Identity in Tahmima Anam’s The Good Muslim

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Avishek Bhattacharya


The 1971 liberation war of Bangladesh led to the birth of a country which considered linguistic commonality as the single most potential marker which could appropriate the nation-state within a homogeneous identity. It is interesting to note that the porosity of language as a token of unification became evident during the nine month long liberation war itself. Voices of discontent were raised revealing the fissures belying the linguistic commonality which demanded the integrity of Pakistan apparently for the sake of Islam.  Setting aside its Islamic identity as a nation-state Bangladesh tried to emerge as a democratic and secular country. However, this tension between the linguistic and religious identity began to gain prominence in the post-independent Bangladesh. Within a decade its socio-political fabric discerned a paradigm shift which attempted to transform the nation into a dictatorial Islamic state. This shift was evident in the subversion of the shared history of the liberation war and also in the erasure of the traumatized past. The regressive forces of religious fundamentalism tried to curb the progressive forces of modernity. The dissemination of the madrasa education bears testimony to this fact. Pitted against the dictatorial regime of 1982 Tahmima Anam’s second novel The Good Muslim captures how within a decade a paradigm shift takes place in the socio-political fabric of the nation turning it in an Islamic fundamentalist state from a secular one. It shows how the nexus between politics and religion tries to impose an Islamic identity erasing the traumatic past, and thus hindering the process of healing from the scars of trauma and how individual acts of resistance function to challenge such acts of  imposition and erasure. This paper will discuss how in the matrix of the novel the conflict between the linguistic and religious identity gets articulation in the microcosm of the family and how individual resistance to the erasure of the past helps the nation to take its first step towards a process of healing.


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Avishek Bhattacharya. “Of Erasure and Resistance: Negotiating History and Identity in Tahmima Anam’s The Good Muslim”. The Creative Launcher, vol. 2, no. 3, Aug. 2017, pp. 186-94, http://thecreativelauncher.com/index.php/tcl/article/view/529.
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