Seeing and Not seeing: A talk of Shahaduz Zaman

1st March 2017, an academic public talk ‘Seeing and not seeing’ was held in IUB. The speaker was Mr. Shahaduz Zaman; an ethnographer of global health.He is also known as Bengali litterateur and achieved Bangla Academy Prize in 2017.He primarily worked in BRAC as well as Chittagong Medical College. Currently He works as a research fellow in University of Glasgow.

Md. Shahaduz Zaman

As Mentioned, He is inspired by Al Biruni and switched to Anthropology from Medical Science .He pointed out the role of observation as multidisciplinary. He also added that society has very little idea about the role of Anthropology in the study setting. He faced challenge from his friends zone to clarify the intentions of Entomology and Anthropology. He added that observation is a powerful process but it relatively depends on position because it is connected with our expected socialization. We need to go through holistically to overcome partial truth. For this, he emphasized on training that minimize our pre occupied judgement. We have to prepare to know about subjectivity by transforming our position .He quoted mystic poet Hasan Raza’s word –“world is discovered from my eyes” to clarify the observational importance in human setting. Because it shapes our perspective .He also emphasized on technology and cultural sensitivity. He showed Iceberg model of culture. He showed various difference of image and toilet culture experience all over the world. In image culture he found aspiration as common ground.He also discussed on global health perspective as well as try to criticized stereotypical westernized ethical issues in Ethnography. He believed that it varies place to place. So in his perspective we should problematize it for the academic development. He pointed out that as an observer ethnographer need to cope with cultural sensitivity.He used reference of various inspiring quotes of Rabindranath and Rudyard Kipling.



The session was almost 150 minutes. As an audience I believe that it was very informative. He showed a basic observation technique:

Overall–Mini tool  —– Selectivity

Besides he explored the the relativity of Zatra(A traditional folk function in Bangladesh) with Human need. A common character in Zatra;named human conscience is wearing Black dress in the scene of celebration to remind us life is complex; be prepared for sorrowing s.


His presentation on global health in Bangladeshi settings give me more connectivity to analyze the role of observation deeply.He presented a case study of Abu that showed our public health scenario in the context of Bangladesh. Abu died at the age of three days because of various indicators just like lack of medical, transport facilities as well as the awareness of formal family socialization, economic condition, religious dependency etc.

In addition to, He noted that classic ethnographers of the west were vanguard for colonization. They helped to impose west culture to dominate Indian culture.For example: Ayurveda Medicine losses its acceptance relatively.

The speaker was concerned about Bangladeshi Marriage law amendment that is provocative for child marriage.But he was intelligently took neutral position. I believed In spite of being ethnographer, we have to bound for human rights.Because misuse of law in the socio-cultural setting of Bangladesh is relatively true and it will promote violence against women.


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