SOCIAL ASPECTS OF- ENDOGENOUS
A PERSPECTIVE FOR BANGLADESH
An attempt has been made in this paper
to identify the areas of endogenous intellectual creativity
in Bangladesh, and to examine the extent of correspondence between
creativity and the material substratum on which it is based.
The historical experience of Bangladesh has been analyzed with
these objectives, but the analysis has been severely handicapped
by the paucity of source materials from earlier times. Nevertheless,
it is hoped that the paper gives an idea about the creative
tradition in this part of the world. The historical evidence,
however skeletal, seems also to justify the relationship postulated
between creativity and the material base.
The paper begins with a section on analytical
aspects dealing with the concepts and definition of the unit
of analysis. The next section provides a review of endogenous
intellectual creativity in Bangladesh. The third section draws
out the general perspectives in terms of the analytical frame.
The final section states the implications of the findings
and presents some reflections for the future.
Creativity may be defined as the capability
to cope with the changing or unforeseen situations, resulting
in "products" which are "new" and "original".
The domain of intellectual creativity may be said to be one
constituted of such intellectual capability used in the widest
sense of participation, so as to include not only professional
intellectuals, artists or ideologues, but also collective
entities such as groups, classes or nations. The processes
of innovation, adjustment, and response to exogenous variables
may be seen to be integrally related to this notion; so are
all processes concerned with changing the limits of consciousness,
including the creativity of the visionary and the artist.
One of the major manifestations of intellectual
creativity is in the expression of collective identity and
consciousness in a given social formation. It provides the
source of values, beliefs, and world-views which constitute
the bedrock of any culture. It is significant as a mechanism
for either legitimizing or repudiating any given socio-economic
system. Indeed, the ideological superstructure which binds
local level class relations at the aggregate levels of the
nation, region or particularistic group may be seen as the
product of the cumulative intellectual creativity of generations.
It follows. therefore, that intellectual creativity cannot
be evaluated independently of its ideological and material
The concept of endogenous intellectual creativity
refers to creative processes arising out of the inner articulation
of a given socio-cultural system. Where the boundaries of
such a system have themselves changed over time (as is the
case with Bangladesh), the aspects of exogenous processes
which have been assimilated over time into the pre-existing
cultural fabrics of the system must be included as endogenous
in the notion of inner articulation.
An adequate evaluation of the material and
ideological bases of endogenous intellectual creativity would
require further elaboration of the social structure in terms
of production and social relations, which has been attempted
in this paper. However, there is a hypothesis implicit in
our approach which suggests that endogenous intellectual creativity
is broadly shaped by the social and economic conditions of
the milieu from which it arises. This correspondence between
elements of the ideological superstructure and those of the
material substratum may be one of the mechanical convergence,
or one of relative or full autonomy.
The unit of analysis in this paper is Bangladesh.
However, this entity, in both geographical and cultural terms,
has been "a part of changing wholes" all through
its history. There has been a continuous change in the boundaries
between the exogenous and the endogenous. It is necessary,
therefore, that the analysis takes into account the experience
of regions which were once related to this contemporary nation-state,
but which are now outside its political boundaries. The boundaries
of the present-day Bengali-speaking area - Bengal in general
terms - will be adequate for the purpose. While there are
sub-regional variations within this area, we shall confine
the treatment to a general overview, subsuming such variants.
Although historical evidence for this region
goes back much earlier, comparatively detailed and interrelated
information is only available from the fourth century A. D.;
the temporal perspective will therefore cover a period of
one millennium and a half.
This region has been inhabited, both in the
present and the past, by numerous tribal groups, most of whom
inhabit the mountainous fringe of the area. With respect to
communities of the "men from the plains"- the Bengalis
inhabiting the stratified villages of the deltaic flatland
- the tribal groups may the regarded as encysted minority
groups with sharply contrasting cultural, social, and economic
traits. While their varied traditions of endogenous intellectual
creativity are no less interesting than those of the plainsmen,
the constraints of space have made it necessary that we exclude
them from the following analysis.