The emergence of modern-nation states saw the end of the empirical era of exploitation and exercise of inherent racist tendencies towards the 'other'. However, the effect of that colonial system is still ever-present in the creation and governance of these newly independent states. While every new state aims to be 'modern', they adopt the international legal framework of the West as their own - a system they had initially wanted to escape. The concept of Muslim universality in the form of the ummah should have freed Pakistan from the shackles of its former colonial masters. Instead, this phenomenon was replaced by European universalism, aiding the subtle colonial expansion in a postcolonial world and further division in the Indian subcontinent. Bangladesh recently entered the 50th anniversary of its independence; Bangladeshis worldwide enshrine this historical significance through annual celebrations commemorating its saviours. Nevertheless, the question of belonging still lingers despite liberation from British, Indian, and Pakistani rule as they seek to heal from the colonial trauma which has caused various identity shifts concerning their 'Bengaliness' and 'Muslimness'. This thesis aims to problematise and provoke discussions around what the Bangladeshi identity currently represents and whether the idea of Bengali Muslim consciousness goes beyond the postcolonial framework of nationalism. Historically, European epistemology has played a significant role in the self-image a person or group creates for themselves. There is a need to revisit and dismantle those frameworks to, ultimately, understand and conceptualise the identity of the Bangla Universal.


School of Global Affairs and Public Policy


Law Department

Degree Name

MA in International Human Rights Law

Graduation Date

Spring 6-21-2023

Submission Date


First Advisor

Hani Sayed

Committee Member 1

Martina Rieker

Committee Member 2

Jason Beckett


73 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Not necessary for this item