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THE BODY, SUBJECTIVITY, AND SOCIALITY: Fakir Lalon Shah and His Followers in Contemporary Bangladesh

Mozumder, Mohammad (2017) THE BODY, SUBJECTIVITY, AND SOCIALITY: Fakir Lalon Shah and His Followers in Contemporary Bangladesh. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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I introduce the unorthodox conceptualization of the body maintained by the followers of Fakir Lalon Shah (1774-1890) in contemporary Bangladesh. This study is an exploratory attempt to put the wisdom of the Fakirs in conversation with established social theorists of the body, arguing that the Aristotelian conceptualization of habitus is more useful than Bourdieu’s in explaining the power of bodily practices of the initiates. My ethnographic research with the prominent Fakirs—participant observation, in-depth interview, and textual analysis of Lalon’s songs—shows how the body can be educated not only to defy, resist, or transgress dominant socio-political norms, but also to cultivate an alternative subjectivity and sociality. I explain how the corporal body acts as the means of both spiritual cultivation and socio-cultural transformations, and show how the Fakirs manage desire without indulgence or suppression, but by sanctifying it. Sanctifying desire serves as the Fakirs’ way of cultivating an ethical relationship to the self. Fakirs’ sanctified desire strives, often unsuccessfully, to annihilate egoism and cherish the indivisibility of human beings, practices that together constitute the enduring fabric of a supposedly selfless subjectivity and ethical sociality. Finally, I discuss how in contemporary Bangladesh, public authorities, mass media, and civil society stakeholders have been gradually coopting the heterodox praxis of the Fakirs.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Mozumder, Mohammadmnm25@pitt.edumnm25
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBamyeh, Mohammedmab205@pitt.edumab205
Committee MemberBrush, Lisalbrush@pitt.edulbrush
Committee MemberAlter, Josephjsalter@pitt.edujsalter
Committee MemberDuck, Waverlywod1@pitt.eduwod1
Committee MemberPaterson, Markpaterson@pitt.edupaterson
Date: 26 April 2017
Date Type: Submission
Defense Date: 26 April 2017
Approval Date: 28 September 2017
Submission Date: 26 August 2017
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 158
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Sociology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: No
Uncontrolled Keywords: Body, embodiment, power, mysticism, Baul, Fakir Lalon/Lalan Shah
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2017 21:48
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2019 05:15


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