Posted: 3/15/23

TAMIU Free Lecture Looks at Identity and Belonging in the Bengali Diaspora March 27


Dr. Mehnaaz Momen
Dr. Mehnaaz Momen  

A special lecture at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) will focus on the Bengali Diaspora, the immigration of Bangladeshi immigrants and their children from the South Asian country, and issues of belonging and identity.

The lecture is free of charge and open to the public on Monday, March 27, 2023 at 6 p.m. in TAMIU’s Academic Innovation Center (AIC), room 126.

“Crafting Home: A Feminist Gaze on Identity and Belonging in the Bengali Diaspora,” will feature TAMIU’s Dr. Mehnaaz Momen, associate professor of Political Science and the author of the recent memoir, Living Dhaka, Leaving Dhaka. She will be joined by Chaitali Sen, author of A New Race of Men from Heaven, and Saborna Roychowdhury, author of Everything Here Belongs to You.

Dr. Momen, a TAMIU faculty member since 2002, is the author of Political Satire, Postmodern Reality, and the Trump Presidency: Who Are we Laughing At? (Lexington Books, 2019) and The Paradox of Citizenship in American Politics: Ideals and Reality (Springer, 2018).  Her book on the border, “ Listening to Laredo: A Border City in a Globalized Age (University of Arizona Press, 2023) is awaiting release in September. In her memoir, she brings to life an increasingly forgotten perspective about what it feels like to grow up as a girl in a traditional society.

Portrait of Saborna Roychowdhury
Saborna Roychowdhury author of 'Everything Here Belongs to You'

Momen noted that while political boundaries can divide, identities can be shared.  The evening’s lecturers are bound by Bengali identity, she observed.

“Bangladesh and West Bengal are divided by political boundaries, like Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, but the cultural and ethnic Bengali identity is shared and nurtured across the national borders. All of the lecture’s authors are bound by their Bengali identities, immigrant experiences and friendship. Through different genres of writing, they are trying to traverse their own journey as writers and creating homes for themselves,” Dr. Momen said.

Sen’s latest, the story collection  A New Race of Men from Heaven (Sarabande Books, 2023), is the winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize for Short Fiction. Her short stories and essays have been published in  Ecotone, Shenandoah, New England Review, New Ohio Review, Colorado Review, Electric Literature, LitHub, Los Angeles Review of Books, Catapult, and others. She is a graduate of the Hunter College MFA in Fiction, and the founder of Borderless: Conversations on Art, Action, and Justice , an interview series.

Roychowdhury is the author of the novel, The Distance (Istoria Books 2013) and Everything Here Belongs to You, published by Black Rose Writing in June 2022.   It has received the Third Place/Bronze Medal in the prestigious Reader's Favorite International Book Awards contest in Fiction-Drama. Her short story Bengal Monsoon appeared in New York Stories magazine and received a Pushcart Prize nomination. Born and raised in Kolkata, India, she moved to the U.S. for undergraduate work in chemistry. She lives in Houston with her husband and twin daughters.

Portrait of Chaitali Sen
Chaitali Sen author of 'A New Race of Men from Heaven'

Bengali form the majority population of Bengal, the region of northeastern South Asia corresponding to the country of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal. The Bengali Diaspora saw its beginnings in the 1990s and refers to those who have left the country and moved abroad.

Some 3 million Bengali are believed to live abroad with large communities in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, the United Kingdom, and the United States, home to over 200,000 Bengali. 

For additional information, contact Dr. Momen at mmomen@tamiu.edu or call 956.326.2631.

Registration for Maymester, Summer, and Fall 2023 begins Monday, April 3 at 12:01 a.m. An individual's registration start date and time are based on a phased registration schedule. View the registration schedule here:  https://www.tamiu.edu/registrar/registration.shtml .

To learn more about TAMIU’s Registration processes, visit the dedicated Registration Hub at  https://go.tamiu.edu/registration .