Theory of “Subhuman” life


Nasir Uddin has been working for years to build a new theory what is called “Subhuman Life” theory to understand the people living in an acute marginalized and atrocious conditions. ‘Subhuman’ is a theory to understand severely vulnerable condition of the people in relations to an authoritarian nature of the state. It could also provide a new framework of understanding genocide, ethnocide, ethnic cleansing and domicide. Uddin argues that ‘subhuman’ is a category of people who are born in human society, but have no space in human community. ‘Subhuman’ does not receive treatments what a human deserves, and does not lead a life like a human being. ‘Subhumans’ are born in the world, but the world does not own them in any state-structure. ‘Subhuman’ are treated as like o-manush (non-human) since they do not exist in the legal framework of any state. ‘Subhuman’ is a particular category of people who live in the borderland of ‘life’ and ‘death’. ‘Subhumans’ are not human beings in their due dignity, rights and voices as are dealt with as if they are lesser than human beings. The Oxford University Press has published his ethnography The Rohingya: An Ethnography of “Subhuman” Life (2020) to establish his theory of “Subhuman”. His theory of “subhuman” is widely spreading up across the world with huge appreciations. Uddin gave three consecutive talks on his theory of “Subhuman” at Asia Institute in the University of Toronto, International Migration Research Centre (IMRC) at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo and Centre for Refugee Studies at York University, Canada in 2017. He also gave lecture on his “subhuman theory” in the 8th Humboldt Foundation Winners Forum Meeting in Bonn, Germany on 18 October 2018. Uddin gave a series of lectures on his “subhuman” theory at the Refugee Studies Centre (RSC) of Oxford University, Department of Anthropology and Sociology at SOAS and the Centre for Migration, Refugees, and Belonging at the University of East London in November 2018. He also gave another series of lecture on the “subhuman theory” at Columbia University, New York University, the New School of Social Research, the University of Delaware, Cornell University, University of Melbourne, Flinders University and the University of Adelaide from October 2019 to December 2019.

Theoretical Contributions

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