Shahidul Alam’s THE BIRTH PANGS OF A NATION is now part of the Asia-Pacific Photobook Archive

Title: The Birth Pangs of a Nation

Editor:  Shahidul Alam

Photo Editor: Robert Pledge

Date of publication:  2011

Language: English

Dimensions of book: 36 x 27 cm

Designer: A S M Rezaur Rahman/Drik

Publisher: Drik Picture Library

ISBN: 978-989-33-4562-2

Summary of Project:

‘The people of Bangladesh, who make this golden land their home have come to accept forced displacement as in an integral part of their lives. For centuries, floods, cyclones, drought, poverty, and conflict have forced them to move in large numbers, and to give shelter to those who need it. They understand the mighty rivers and their rhythm; they know the rules that nature sets for them: when they can take their boats out, when to cast the net, when they must return …

The images in this volume capture, in frozen frames, the hopelessness and despair of the displaced of one tragic upheaval. But it is not an unremitting saga filled with pathos. The birth of a nation is a matter of joy, and this beautiful land celebrates that, with its swaying paddy, windswept skies, the cheerful boatmen singing soulful songs in its rivers, the ecstasy of the Baul singers, the babble of its cities, the reflective calm of the countryside, and the haunting, elemental mangroves. The refugees longed for that sense of normalcy – and you see it in the curious eyes of the child looking at the new world, in the expectation on the faces of crowds standing with quiet dignity for their turn at the rations, in the joy of an impromptu volleyball match. ‘      Salil Tripathi