Azfar Hussain

Azfar Hussain (Bengali: আজফার হোসেন) is a Bangladeshi American theorist, critic, academic, bilingual writer, poet, translator, and public intellectual.[1][2][3] He is Associate Professor of Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies within the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, and vice-president of the Global Center for Advanced Studies (GCAS) and honorary GCAS Professor of English, World Literature, and Interdisciplinary Studies.[1][2] He taught English, world literature, ethnic studies, and cultural studies at Washington State University, Bowling Green State University, and Oklahoma State University; while, in Bangladesh, he taught English at Jahangirnagar University and North South University.[4] He also worked as Scholar-in-Residence and Summer Distinguished Professor of English and Humanities at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh.[4] He is an advisory editor of Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge.[5] He is also an editorial board member of the Bengali journals Natun Diganta and Sarbajonakotha.

Azfar Hussain
আজফার হোসেন
Azfar Hussain.jpg
Hussain at TSC, University of Dhaka
EducationPhD (English and World Literature)
Alma materUniversity of Dhaka, Washington State University
OccupationWriter, scholar, teacher

Hussain has published—in both English and Bengali—hundreds of academic, popular, and creative pieces, including translations from non-western languages, and written on a wide range of topics from Native American poetics and politics to critiques of postmodern-poststructuralist-postcolonial theory to Marxist political economy to "third-world" literatures to globalization and imperialism to theories and practices of interdisciplinarity.[2] He translated into Bengali the stories of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the poems of Stéphane Mallarmé,[6] Vicente Aleixandre,[7] and Roque Dalton, among others. He also translated into English the lyrics of Kabir [8] and the poems of Faiz Ahmad Faiz.[9]

Hussain is also an internationally known public speaker and a frequent subject of media interviews regarding Bangladeshi society, culture, and politics.[10][11][12][13][14][15]

Education and careerEdit

Azfar Hussain received his BA (Honors) and MA degrees in English from the University of Dhaka. He obtained his second MA in English under a Fulbright fellowship and his doctorate in English and World Literature—both with distinction—from Washington State University.[16] He also worked as Postdoctoral Blackburn Fellow in the Department of English at Washington State University prior to joining in 2004 the university's faculty of the Department of Comparative Ethnic Studies, later renamed Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies.[17] During his stay in Bangladesh in the early-to-mid 1990s, Hussain served as Acting General Secretary of Bangladesh Lekhak Shibir—a national organization of progressive writers, artists, and activists—where he worked with Hasan Azizul Huq who was then President of the organization, and with Akhteruzzaman Elias who was then its vice president, in addition to working with Badruddin Umar, one of the founding members of the organization, and with Anu Muhammad, who was then on the executive committee of the organization. Hussain co-edited—with Serajul Islam Choudhury—a Bengali national viewsweekly called Somoy and worked as a contributing editor of the national newsweekly Sunday Express.[16] He also contributed numerous columns on political, social, and cultural issues to newspapers and periodicals in both Bengali and English.[16] In 2013 Hussain joined as vice-president the Global Center for Advanced Studies, whose Honorary President was Alain Badiou in 2014–15, and has been working in that position since then.

Works and positionsEdit

"Speak" by Faiz Ahmad Faiz in Azfar Hussain's translation[9]
Speak, your lips are free.

Speak, it is your own tongue.
Speak, it is your own body.
Speak, your life is still yours.

See how in the blacksmith's shop
The flame burns wild, the iron glows red;
The locks open their jaws,
And every chain begins to break.

Speak, this brief hour is long enough
Before the death of body and tongue:
Speak, 'cause the truth is not dead yet,

Speak, speak, whatever you must speak.

Influenced by the works of Karl Marx, V.I. Lenin, Antonio Gramsci, and Frantz Fanon, Azfar Hussain in his interdisciplinary work examines how such global systems as capitalism, imperialism/colonialism, racism, and patriarchy work in their interconnections, and how they affect the practice of everyday life both locally and globally, both economically and culturally, and he focuses on the ideas of revolutionary politics and radical social transformation.[18] He also offers a theory of struggle based on his formulation that the struggle for human emancipation involves four crucial sites of both oppression and opposition: land, labor, language, and the body.[19] These four categories also serve as conceptual, analytic, and hermeneutic tools in Hussain's work of literary and cultural criticism.[20] As for his work in the area of comparative literature, Hussain examines the Eurocentrism that, according to him, still characterizes much of the field, while he emphasizes the need for decolonizing the field by ranging beyond, if not rejecting, the canonical Anglo-American and European traditions and thus by comparing—i.e., by exploring significant connections and similarities among—ignored and marginalized anti-colonial literary works from Asia, Africa, and Latin America.[21][22]

Personal lifeEdit

Azfar Hussain divides his time between Bangladesh and the US. He currently lives in Allendale, Michigan.[23] He was married in 2002, and has a daughter, Salma Hussain.[23]

Selected publicationsEdit

  • Dorshonakkhyan (Philosophical Narratives, 2019)
  • Chromatones: A collection of poems in English (1980)
  • The Wor(l)d in Question: Essays in Political Economy and Cultural Politics (2008)
  • The Phalgun Phenomenon (Translations of Bengali poems) (2008)
  • Reading About the World, Volume 1 (Co-editor) (1999)
  • Reading About the World, Volume 2 (Co-editor) (1999)


  1. ^ a b "Interview with Azfar Hussain - literature, culture, and politics". The Daily Observer. 16 January 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Azfar Hussain". The Global Center for Advanced Studies. The Global Center for Advanced Studies. Archived from the original on 2 April 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  3. ^ ড. আজফার হোসেন | সকালের বাংলাদেশের আলাপচারিতায় [In morning conversation with Azfar Hussain on Jamuna TV] (in Bengali). Jamuna TV. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Alternative education for transforming the world". Dhaka Tribune. 2 April 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  5. ^ "About Rhizomes". Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  6. ^ স্তেফান মালার্মের দুইটি গদ্যকবিতা. সাহিত্য ক্যাফে (in Bengali). 13 June 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  7. ^ Hussain, Azfar (9 July 2013). বিসেন্তে আলেকজান্দ্রের দশটি কবিতা. (in Bengali). Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  8. ^ "Kabir (d. 1575?): Selected Poems". Washington State University. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  9. ^ a b "Faiz Ahmad Faiz (1914-1984): Selected Poems". Washington State University. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  10. ^ Mercier, Laurie. "Interview with Azfar Hussain: Micronarratives Against Domination". KBOO. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  11. ^ দেরিদা নিজেকে ম্যাটেরিয়েলিস্ট দাবি করেন কিন্তু তিনি ভূতুড়েপনায় আচ্ছন্ন : আজফার হোসেন. Bangla Tribune (in Bengali). Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  12. ^ সময় সংলাপ, ৯-০৬-২০১৬ (in Bengali). Somoy TV. 9 June 2016. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  13. ^ Television Interview on the Politics of Comparative Literature (in Bengali).
  14. ^ রঙ্গমাতন সোলায়মান মেলা ২০০৮-এর বৈঠক : মগজে উপনিবেশ ও এ সময়ের নাটক. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  15. ^ আজকের বাংলাদেশ (in Bengali). Independent Television. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  16. ^ a b c আজফার হোসেন. (in Bengali). Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  17. ^ দেরিদা নিজেকে ম্যাটেরিয়েলিস্ট দাবি করেন কিন্তু তিনি ভূতুড়েপনায় আচ্ছন্ন : আজফার হোসেন. Bangla Tribune (in Bengali). Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  18. ^ Hussain, Azfar (2006). Race and the Foundations of Knowledge: Cultural Amnesia in the Academy. Illinois: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0252072567. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  19. ^ হোসেন, আজফার. মার্কিন সাম্রাজ্যবাদের সামপ্রতিক ব্যাকরণ. নতুন দিগন্ত (in Bengali). নতুন দিগন্ত. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  20. ^ Hussain, Azfar. "Joy Harjo and Her Poetics as Praxis: A "Postcolonial" Political Economy of the Body, Land, Labor, and Language". Wicazo Sa Review. 15 (27–61). Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  21. ^ "Azfar Hussain on the Politics of Comparative Literature [A Television interview]". Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  22. ^ ডঃ আজফার হোসেনঃ "তাঁর জীবন ও কর্ম" (Interview) (in Bengali). ULAB TV. Retrieved 15 August 2016 – via YouTube.
  23. ^ a b বিষয় ‘‌‌বুদ্ধিজীবী’ আজফার হোসেনের সঙ্গে আলাপ. bdnews24 (in Bengali). Retrieved 2 August 2016.

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