The Faculty of Law, University of Dhaka (DU), with a view to imparting knowledge on various multidisciplinary issues and subjects outside the realm of law and legal studies, initiated an interdisciplinary lecture series, the ‘Law Faculty Open Discussion’ in early 2017. This series attracts tertiary level students from all disciplines as well as young professionals with its unorthodox choice of topic.
The third edition of the Law Faculty Open Discussion, titled ‘What is Post-modernism?’ was held on May 14, 2018, at DU Law Faculty. Dr. Syed Manzoorul Islam, renowned educationist and former Professor, Department of English, DU was the guest speaker of the event.
Mr. Syed Masud Reza, Assistant Professor, Department of Law, DU welcomed everyone to the event and gave a brief background of the initiation of the discussion series and the reasons behind choosing this particular topic. In the beginning, Professor Syed Manzoorul Islam stated that the notion regarding postmodernism being after modernism is wrong. Rather, the word ‘post’ in this regard, means parallel to modernism and does not imply something superseding modernism. His speech then focused on modernism, its evolution, and the positive and negative impacts of modernism all over the world leading to the initiation of postmodernism in the 19th century.
Professor Islam also spoke at length on the different aspects and viewpoints regarding postmodernism and its various meanings. Furthermore, he mentioned different positive and negative impacts of postmodernism that has led to various social movements all over the world as well as the effects of the social changes that were brought about thereby. While talking about postmodernism and its effects on law and legal system, he remarked that the colonial norms and practices are still existing in our legal system which has led to the gap between the ruler and the ruled getting wider each day.
He stated that there is no sense of equality in its truest sense in our legal system and that our existing legal system has no space for pluralism. He remarked that this supposed sense of equality is being misappropriated by our judges which is evident from the differential treatment of offenders based on their class, gender etc. Additionally, he criticised the very notion of our legal system regarding the assumption that judges are above all bias and would adjudicate litigations being absolutely impartial and devoid of emotion.
Towards the end, Dr. Islam went on to refer to five movements that postmodernism initiated in the field of law, viz. new definition of law and adjudication in relation to economic school, critical legal studies, feminist legal theory, law and literature, and rethinking canons/objective knowledge.
Event covered by Ali Mashraf, student of law at University of Dhaka