Publication Type: Journal article / chapter
Countries: Bangladesh
Authors: Zahir Ahmed
Funders: DFID ESRC

Anthropologist Zahir Ahmed’s article ‘From Shape Shifting to Collusion in Violence: An Ethnography of Informal Relationships Between Bangladeshi Members of Parliament and Their Constituents’ (published in PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review) is based on an ethnography of relationships between members of Parliament (MPs) and their constituents in Bangladesh. It shows how social and political relationships are entangled and performed, and how MPs are viewed by others and how they see themselves. Despite the diversity of politicians and constituents, some aspects of these relationships cut across MPs’ age, gender, and political background. Ahmed argues that these messy and contradictory relationships require MPs to be shape‐shifters. When MPs transgress to collude with one group of constituents to marginalize others—or even to commit violence—the representative role breaks down. Such disruptions mean understandings of representation have to be reconceptualized. Knowing how MPs make choices between competing and conflicting interests among their constituents could enrich debates about their role specifically and about democracy more generally.