Building Education for the Commons

GCAS Interviews Arup Rahee, a Revolutionary Poet, Musician & Philosopher

Arup Rahee

Arup Rahee

The Global Center for Advanced Studies (GCAS) is honored to interview, Arup Rahee and to be partnering with the institute he founded, the Center for Bangladesh Studies-CBS

Arup Rahee is a poet, singer, composer, writer, columnist, public intellectual and activist.

Rahee writes mainly in Bangla and English on issues of culture, politics and philosophy. Rahee’s works are mainly inspired by shahajiya, baul, fakiri, sufism, dialectic materialism, feminism and other revolutionary thoughts emerged around the world. His areas of interest and engagements are in critical philosophy, politics, baul-fakir-sahajiya tradition, Indian philosophy, media and public sphere, culture and lifestyle. Rahee is active in anti-imperialist, anti-patriarchal and all other movements for radical social transformation for a free and just society, locally and globally.

Some of Rahee’s publications include, Civil Society: Political Analysis. 1999; Rooppur (collection of poems and songs). 2000, 2006 ; Khonar Bijnan (the science of khona). 2006; Lungi Kahinee: a contribution on praxis and political economy (collection of poems, songs, debates and interviews of Arup Rahee). 2009. ‘Bollywood Tarokara Jibito Noy,Mrito!’ Notes on society, culture and politics. 2012.

Music albums:

`Bhab Boithoki’, Bichar Gaan,Duet album by Arup Rahee & Lipi Sarkar.Produced by NTV, Published by G Series.2007 ; NAYAK, by the ensemble LEELA. lyrics, tunes and vocals by Rahee. Produced by BAHIRANA. Distributed by Agniveena-G-series. 2009 ; ”Robena e Dhon, Jibon o Jouban”.

Lyrics : Lalon Fakir. Vocal and music arrangement: Arup Rahee, Produced by BAHIRANA. Distributed by Agniveena-G-series. 2010.

Arup Rahee is a founding trustee and the General Secretary of the Center for Bangladesh Studies-CBS

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Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself and your institution?

Arup Rahee: Strategically speaking, I’m a poet, singer, writer and activist, but being a Sahajiya Materialist*, I find it problematic calling myself a ‘poet’ or ‘artist’ or ‘singer/composer’ or ‘writer’ in a modern-western- bourgeoisie sense. Rather I’m comfortable calling myself an activist, a person in praxis or ‘sadhana’ in baul- fakir-sahajiya terms. My engagements are with poetry( as I write), music ( as I sing/compose), philosophy and theorizing ( as I articulate things), politics( as I prioritize programs and actions) and living and becoming, as I make my lifestyle a site and a form of struggle and resistance.

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 11.43.14 AMFrom my journey of activism on different issues, in different forms and capacities for the last two decades, I took three concrete organizational initiatives with my fellow activist friends and colleagues. These include The Lokoj Institute( 1999-20012), Leela Ensemble & Leela Foundation( 2006- ) and Center for Bangladesh Studies-CBS( 2013-). Lokoj Institute is now housed within Center for Bangladesh Studies.

Although my writing, artistic and activism works have international and global dimension and engagements, to deepen our intervention in our geographical context and priority of programmatic focus we have started CBS.

CBS is a center, a community and a hub of engaged activists including artists, academic and non-academic scholars and philosophers working for more just and democratic Bangladesh and world.

CBS is a nonpartisan, non-government, non-profit, multidisciplinary research, advocacy and public education institution dedicated to infuse the social sphere with contextual knowledge and praxis aimed at impacting the overall discursive and cultural patterns in Bangladesh. Through progressive generation of ideas and actions CBS will continuously traverse a wide range of available as well as self-generated resources to arrive at new insights for local and global solidarity in the struggle for democracy and justice.

* By the term Sahajiya Materialism I propose a ‘materialism’ that derives from the encounter and exchange of Sahajiya and the Marxist materialism in my understanding. My writings will be available in English soon on this topic . To get an idea about baul-fakir-sahajiya tradition, one can see:










Lalon Fakir:


Azfar Hussain. “Rereading Lalon Fakir: The Anticolonial Politics of Peasant Songs.” Solicited by Padma, a South Asian journal of literature and culture.

Q: Can you tell us about your Center?  What are its goals, what does it seek to accomplish?

AR: Through organizing and facilitating research, seminars, dialogues, teach-in’s,  talk-series,  workshops, study circles, cross-disciplinary events and other forms of public and social education, CBS works to deepen the understanding the local and global economic, social, cultural and political history and contexts that may facilitate and/or pose challenges for the democratic transformation of Bangladesh and the world.

To build concrete forms of solidarity, CBS will  collaborate with other agencies, institutions and organizations, including universities, colleges, management institutions, cultural organizations and other nonprofits as well as the media in Bangladesh and abroad for the promotion of the objective of CBS.

CBS will work to develop capacity to bridge the gap between research in social and aesthetic sciences and their application in local context in collaboration with various institutions especially with those that are concerned with the overall democratic transformation of Bangladesh and the world, its social and environmental ecology.

CBS is working to ensure people’s participation in democratic polity, economic policy and the governance while rethinking the models of development that are exclusionary and oppressive, CBS is promoting ideas, knowledge and action which will ensure a non-hierarchical, nondiscriminatory society based on egalitarian economy and polity.

In coming days, CBS, in partnership with GCAS, will be offering workshops and courses on the following topics and areas:

-Global Studies (  Bengal studies, South Asia studies etc);

-Political Science (democracy and governance studies)

-Sustainable Security and Peace Studies(alternative regionalism);

-Political Economy ( ‘ global economy’, political economy of ‘development’ etc );

-Critical Philosophy ( Indian philosophy, philosophies from around the world)

-Psychoanalysis ( Introduction to psychoanalysis)

-Arts, Media and Cultural Studies ( art theory and  history, media and the politics of representation, feminisms etc)

– Political Ecology ( environment, sustainability, capitalism and ecological crisis)

These topics and areas are subject to be defined, prioritized and designed and redesigned  according to the mutual needs and priorities of the CBS – GCAS community.

CBS on Facebook:


Arup Rahee on Facebook:


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This entry was posted on January 19, 2015 by .
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