The Language of Student Power and Space:

Building a Spatialised Social Movement Identity in East Pakistan, 1948–1954

  • Samantha Christiansen
Keywords: student politics, Bangladesh, Pakistan, campus space, urban space, protest, social movements


This article traces the emergence and development of a student political identity in post-colonial East Pakistan as it coalesced around the Bengali Language Movement (Bhasha Andolan). It further argues that the collective student political identity was directly tied to the development of the Dhaka University campus as a contentious movement space. The politicisation of the students and the campus operated in a mutually constitutive dynamic in which students both defined, and were defined by, their physical control of the campus space and in spatialised ritual practices memorialising deceased student activists as political martyrs. This case study provides a salient example of the interconnected relationship of urban space, collective identity, and social movements.