Serajul Islam Choudhury

Serajul Islam Choudhury (born 23 June 1936) is a Bangladeshi literary critic, public intellectual, social and political analyst, activist, historian, educationist, editor, translator, columnist, and professor emeritus at the University of Dhaka. He is the editor of Natun Diganta. Considered one of the foremost oppositional intellectuals of Bangladesh, he authored nearly a hundred books and countless essays in Bangla and English.[1]

Serajul Islam Choudhury
সিরাজুল ইসলাম চৌধুরী
Serajul Islam Choudhury.jpg
Choudhury at the University of Dhaka (Feb 2015)
Born (1936-06-23) 23 June 1936 (age 84)
Alma mater
Spouse(s)Nazma Jesmin Choudhury
  • Rownak Ara Choudhury
  • Sharmin Choudhury
  • Hafizuddin Chowdhury (father)
  • Asia Khatun (mother)
RelativesAmanul Islam Chowdhury (brother)

Early life and educationEdit

Choudhury was born in the village of Baroikhali under the Sreenagar thana in the district of Munshigonj.[2] He is the eldest of the nine brothers and four sisters to their parents Hafizuddin Chowdhury and Asia Khatun.[2] In his early life, he liked to build his career as a novelist, but his father wanted him to join the civil service after a degree in Economics. On a note of compromise, he enrolled with the English department at the University of Dhaka after an intermediate of arts degree, obtained in 1952 from Notre Dame College, preceded by his matriculation from St. Gregory's High School in 1950. He received his MA degree in 1956 and taught briefly at Haraganga College in Munshiganj and Jagannath College in Dhaka. He completed his post-graduate diploma in English Studies at The University of Leeds , the UK and obtained his doctorate in English from Leicester University, the UK.[3]


Choudhury joined as a lecturer the Department of English, Dhaka University, in 1957, planning also to be a writer. He decided not to become a bureaucrat which many around him were becoming then. He stated two reasons why he wanted to be a writer: first, his work at the university, which would ensure that he would not be transferred from place to place and which would allow him time to read and write a lot; and, second, his temperament. In more than four decades that followed, he taught students, wrote essays, headed the department, became Dean, spawned off several academic and research projects, initiated doctoral dissertation guidance at the department, started periodicals, founded study centers, and remained involved in university politics.[4] Choudhury first initiated to offer the Ph.D. degree in English at Dhaka University. He edited journals, the university journals of arts and letters, in Bangla and English — Dhaka Visvavidyalay Patrika for 15 years and Dhaka University Studies for nine years. He founded the Visvavidyalay Patrika. Choudhury also founded a national views weekly called Somoy and co-edited it with Azfar Hussain, Zaheda Ahmad et al, from the early to the mid-1990s. He founded the University Book Centre in 1978 and the Centre for Advanced Research in Humanities in 1986. In keeping with the spirit, he now runs a centre called Samaj Rupantar Adhyayan Kendra (Centre for Social Transformation Studies), which works towards waking people up to a democracy which would mean ‘equality of rights and opportunities. Rights being equal would not mean anything unless the opportunities remain equal.’[5]

On nationalismEdit

A leading proponent of strategic and defensive nationalism in Bangladesh, Choudhury wrote profusely on the subject from the perspective of Bangladesh's liberation struggle.[6] To him, nationalism is a very important issue having both positive and negative sides. The positive side is that it unites a nation through patriotism. Patriotism is indispensable for collective development. It reduces alienation and makes people aware and sensitive about their countrymen. Nationalism has both external and internal enemies. External enemies attack and try to capture the nation. Now, global capitalism is carrying out this aggression. Capitalism has given birth to imperialism, which is the deadliest enemy of the people. The internal enemy of nationalism is national parochialism, blindness and pride. It has an inner tendency of becoming autocratic. It looks for a leader and develops fascism by making a person the only leader of the people.[6] These are the weaknesses of nationalism. But the greatest internal enemy of nationalism is deprivation. Within the nation there is class deprivation. This gap stands on the way of creating unity. Rich people become rulers and exploit the poor. They agitate the peoplewith nationalist euphoria to sideline the reality of class difference. Class deprivation is a result of capitalism. So that means capitalism attacks us from both within and outside. From outside, it is aggressive and from within, it is subversive.[6]

Personal lifeEdit

Choudhury was married to Nazma Jesmin Choudhury. She was a professor the University of Dhaka. Their children are Rownak Ara Choudhury and Sharmin Choudhury.[2]


Selected publicationsEdit

Choudhury's books in the Bengali language:

  • Anveshana
  • Nirbachita Prabandha (1999)
  • Rashtra o Samskrti (1993)
  • Nazrul Islam: Poet and More (1994) [Nazrul Institute]
  • Bangalir Jaya Parajaya (1994)
  • Apanajana (1992)

Choudhury's books in the English:

  • —— (1975). The Moral Imagination of Joseph Conrad. University of Dhaka. OCLC 2875762.
  • —— (1981). The Enemy Territory: A Study of Evil in D. H. Lawrence. University of Dhaka. OCLC 988367614.
  • —— (2002). Middle Class and the Social Revolution in Bengal: An Incomplete Agenda. University Press. OCLC 603857008.


  1. ^ Hussain, Azfar (June 23, 2016). "Bangladesh's foremost oppositional intellectual". The Daily Star. The Daily Star. Retrieved July 21, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b c d Hasan Hafiz (January 26, 2017). আমার মা - সিরাজুল ইসলাম চৌধুরী. Anannya Magazine (in Bengali). Retrieved February 3, 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Kaiser Haq (June 23, 2016). "A public intellectual turns 80". New Age. Retrieved February 3, 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "Serajul Islam Choudhury: Our leading public intellectual". New Age. June 23, 2016. Retrieved February 3, 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Syed Manzoorul Islam (June 23, 2016). "Serajul Islam Choudhury: a tribute". New Age. Retrieved February 3, 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b c "The country is thriving on the exploitation of the poor". The Daily Star. June 23, 2015. Retrieved August 14, 2018.