Season 4: Ep 33 - In conversation with Nijjor Manush: the Gentrification of Brick Lane, British-Bangladeshi Identity and the media's invalidation of Muslim women.
Today, I am joined by Dr Fatima Rajina and Hajera Begum of Nijjor Manush, an independent campaign group which empowers and educates Bengalis and Bangladeshis in the UK.
Brick Lane’s legacy is synonymous with Bangladeshi cuisine, culture and history. It is both a symbol of struggle and success for Bangladeshis, from Altab Ali to infamous curry houses and everything in-between. It’s somewhere I frequented during my childhood as a Tower Hamlets resident, and now as an adult. I saw it through the lens of unadulterated fascination as a child, and now through the reality of gentrification. The Old Truman Brewery plans to build a five storey shopping complex in the middle of it. We discuss whether this gentrification of Banglatown is an inevitable response to changing consumer demand and economic growth, while also questioning the broader, underhanded motivations at play. We also talk about the potential impact of gentrification on first and second generation Bangladeshi women in East London.
We consider whether there is a sense of solidarity in the UK between different South Asian ethnic groups and also within the Bangladeshi diaspora itself. We each talk about our experiences as British Bangladeshis growing up in the UK, as well as the experiences of our families.
The portrayal of Bangladeshi, and particularly Muslim, Hijabi women in the media can be incendiary and damaging. The current mainstream feminist narrative simultaneously portrays Muslim women as threatening and oppressed, invalidating their agency and undermining their integrity. We share our perspectives on this narrative and whether we think it will ever evolve.
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