New publication by Julian Kuttig: Urban political machines and student politics in 'middle' Bangladesh

(25-06-2019) Published in Critical Asian Studies

In response to the mostly Dhaka-centered research on student politics in Bangladesh, this article aims to understand political competition, the role of patronage networks, political organizations, violence, and student organizations in the provincial city of Rajshahi. The article explores how student politics in Bangladesh shapes (and is shaped by) the political dynamics in “middle Bangladesh.” Student groups in Bangladesh are closely affiliated to political parties and serve as their most important source for mobilization in a party-political regime commonly referred to as a “partyarchy.” Campus politics is deeply integrated into the urban party-political machine in Rajshahi. Controlling Rajshahi University (RU) provides a steady flow of party workers for the local party machine. Thus, the RU campus is a space for organizing political (and violent) labor as well as an important source of revenue for and the distribution of benefits by local party bosses. The urban party machine, however, is not mechanically held together merely by the dispensation of inducements – instead, it is more chaotic and contingent on a form of strategic ambiguity that disguises the structuring effects of patronage power that keeps members motivated and engaged.

Read the full paper at Critical Asian Studies.