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Public Lecture: Mascha Schulz on ''Bengali Cultural Performances as ‘Secular Media’''

9 June 2022

5 p.m.

Seminargebäude, Room S 403

This lecture explores why performances such as street theatre, musical performances or the celebration of Bengali script are privileged media for secularist activism in Bangladesh. What does the performative articulation of secularism entail? Which kind of cultural genres are evoked and why? What kinds of secular publics are created thereby?

While street theatre and other kinds of performance could be interpreted as ways to articulate secular convictions, this lecture argues that the significance of performative arts as secular media goes further. Cultural performance is understood as a secular medium in two senses of the term, as a way of articulating a secularist message but also allowing activists to instantiate and embody a secularity with transformative potential. Here, the medium is the message: cultural secularism is best understood not in terms of the secularist content of performances, but instead through the specific genres that allow distinct subjectivities, communities and publics to be recognized as secular per se.