Moving Memories: An Archive of Bangladeshi Queer Migrants in the US

Curated by Efadul Huq and Rasel Ahmed for SAADA

Painting by Dipankar Singha, Moving Memories, SAADA

Moving Memories is an archive of Bangladeshi Queer migrants in the US. The archive is hosted by SAADA (South Asian American Digital Archive) and was created in partnership with Queer Archives of the Bengal Delta. The exhibit centers the voices of ten Bangladeshi queer migrants whose oral histories were curated by Efadul Huq and Rasel Ahmed. The archive which presents these powerful stories in audio and text, are interwoven with multimedia art by Dipankar Singha and Ata Mojlish.

You can view/listen/read the archive in SAADA’s collection here.

On 5th November 2021, the curators of Moving Memories, Huq and Ahmed spoke to the students of Gender and Global Politics, a special course organized as a transnational pedagogical collaboration by Richa Nagar and co-facilitated by her and Nithya Rajan for the department of Gender, Women, and Sexualities Studies at the University of Minnesota. The students engaged with the exhibit and collaboratively articulated questions for Ahmed and Huq. This discussion took place during a session co-taught by them, titled: Queering the Terrain of Geopolitics, Rights, Violence, and Representation. In this discussion, the curators talk about the politics of archiving transnational, marginalized stories of Bangladeshi queer migrants and what it means to co-create an archive with communities that they are part of, and the question of who “owns” these stories. Huq and Ahmed talk about the project of agitating against the idea of archive as a repository of truth and facts, by creating “an archive of feeling” that indexes the transnational power structures within which the lives of the people and communities whose stories are part of Moving Memories unfold. What emerges in this discussion is the idea of the archive as a relationship between co-creators rather than a collection of stories. Along with the gift of this dynamic archive of previously unheard stories Ahmed and Huq complicate dominant desires for archiving  and the messiness of queer archiving.

Efadul Huq is a poet and Assistant Professor of Environmental Science & Policy at Smith College, Massachusetts. Huq’s research and teaching span areas of environmental justice, international community development, urban sustainability and political ecology with a geographic focus on South Asia and the United States. His transnationally engaged research and teaching are woven into his collaborative work with community organizations, advocacy groups, citizen science initiatives, professional planning organizations and diverse publics. Bridging conversations on home-making and environment, Huq’s collaborative research with community-based advocacy organizations informs the planning for wetlands, rivers and informal settlements in Bangladesh. Huq also co-founded a community-based archive called Queer Archives of the Bengal Delta, which preserves queer social and political memories and artifacts relevant to the Bengal Delta and produces a situated analysis of global gender and sexual politics.
Rasel Ahmed is a community-based filmmaker, archivist, and educator. He is the co-founder and editor of the first Bangladeshi LGBT magazine Roopbaan. Through his film and political work, Rasel explores the themes of migration, displacement, and exile. He is the co-founder of a community-based archive called Queer Archives of the Bengal Delta. Rasel has an MFA from Columbia University and has recently joined the Ohio State University’s Theatre, Film, and Media Arts Department.

AGITATE! Editorial Collective would like to thank the students of GWSS 3003 for participating in this discussion with Efadul Huq and Rasel Ahmed, and articulating the powerful questions that generated this conversation. 

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