Mobilising Images: Encounters of ‘Forced’ Migrants and the Bangladesh War of 1971
ByNayanika Mookherjee
Pages 16

In trying to outline the relationship between mobilities and cosmopolitanism, the nation state is always posited by scholars against cosmopolitanism. Mobility of images however, instead of denationalising spaces in fact fortifies the stereotypes of different territories. The cosmopolitan outlook that is deemed to be inherent to critical mobilities can identify with these mobile images and ideas precisely because of what is already perceived about a certain country. The article examines how the mobile images of the ‘Help Bangladesh’ poster and the concert in 1971, reinforces a certain representation of East Pakistan/Bangladesh as only poor and starving. It is this fixing of the image of the nation through mobile images which also comes into play when considering the concept of ‘forced’ migration. In trying to unpick and critique the so called the disjunction between the idea of ‘forced’ migration and migration by ‘choice’, in this article I focus on the encounter between middle class refugees, the poor and the raped migrant woman of the Bangladesh war of 1971 and the resulting displacement. The documentary Muktir Gaan (Songs of Freedom 1995) – billed as a documentary and a ‘road movie’ imbued with adventure, eroticism, pain and prospect of freedom – is the lens through which the paper highlights the encounter between different ‘forced’ migrants as a result of war and its resultant implications for a sociology of mobilities. It also allows an examination of the political economy of different ‘forced’ migrants, their classed and gendered locations. By focusing on romanticism linked to the idea of the adventure of war, the paper reveals who can be mobile or not and the conditions under which this mobility is made possible. In the process, the paper questions the potential of a global economy of signs to nurture a transantional civil society and global public.