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A Very British History: British-Bangladeshis

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In this presentation, Dr Aminul Hoque MBE will be discussing his recent BBC documentary film ‘A Very British History: British Bangladeshis’. A screening of the film will be held in the days prior to this talk and will be advertised through the events listings on the College’s website. The documentary explores the migration history, settlement and experiences of the wonderfully brilliant British Bangladeshi community. It is part of a wider BBC4 television series entitled A Very British History (#AVBH) and focuses on a variety of migrant communities who have settled in the UK and how they have contributed positively to the wider socio-cultural scene of British life. Essentially, this personal and historical documentary of British Bangladeshis, is a global story of migration and we get to see and hear of the many narratives of dislocation, upheaval, struggle, resistance, sacrifice, hope and triumph. It is a very human story, a very ‘British’ story. In the documentary, Dr Aminul Hoque – the presenter – interviews his father as he recalls the racism and isolation he experienced in the 1960s/70s, speaks to the ‘invisible’ heroines (Bangladeshi women) of the community who worked 24/7 as seamstresses on their machines within the confinements of their homes, and Aminul also goes back to the village of his birth in Sylhet, Bangladesh with his very westernised British-born kids – to see whether they feel a sense of connection to a space that they have never visited before? Using archival footage and personal stories, the documentary uncovers (hidden) narratives of a very underrepresented community, and the issues the documentary raises are so relevant also in this current geo-politics of heightened xenophobia and a climate of hate towards minority communities, as it highlights that migrant communities are just normal, hard-working folk and have hopes, desires, anxieties and aspirations – just like everyone else!

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This talk is part of the Wolfson College Humanities Society series.

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