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Author(s):Samayeen, Nubras
Subject(s):Landscape Architecture
Abstract:On December 16, 1971, the new democratic country of Bangladesh (former East Pakistan) was born after a nine-month-long civil war with West Pakistan; casualties included the targeted killing of one thousand intellectuals, the raping and slaying of over 300,000 women, and a million massacred civilians. Ever since, in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, the National Assembly Complex (picture) symbolizes the country's democracy, a government by and for the people. Designed by Louis Kahn, an American architect and icon in the modern architectural world, the Complex was intended to stand as a historical and cultural emblem. Kahn's ideas granted the design a unique place in the country's national imagination. But today, does it really signify the democracy that the country desired? This photo was taken on Victory Day, December 16, 2019, after almost five decades of supposed freedom. A Muslim girl gazes toward the adorned Complex; the fence prevents direct visual and physical access that democracy promises. My dissertation research asks: Why, at a critical point of Bangladesh's history, did the state choose Kahn, an American architect, to design its principal building that would represent Bangladesh's identity? How has the paradox of Western and Bengali sensibilities become the symbol of the country's democracy?
Issue Date:2020
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Nubras Samayeen
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-04-15

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