Associate Professor Sayema Khatun

I am a socio-cultural anthropologist and faculty member at Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh, pursuing my graduate research on Rohingya refugee policy at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA.

I have been working on gender and feminism for last 20 years focused on Bangladesh and South Asia. I am also an activist bridging academia and activism. My current research on Rohingya policy in Bangladesh equipped me with unique insights on this crisis to share with the world.

Socio-cultural anthropology is the primary field of my academic interest with a particular focus on the post-colonial South Asian culture both in its geographical location and global diaspora. My research interests and ethnographic writings revolve around a wide range of topics, such as indigeneity, collective identity, citizenship, statelessness and making of refugees, violence and genocide, anthropology of institutions, policy and humanitarian intervention, protracted aftermath of partition of British-India and recurring conflicts/crisis in Bangladesh-India-Myanmar borders, violence of development, bureaucracy and corruption, culture and power in Covid-19 pandemic. In the last twenty years, I have engaged with my academic research, teaching, and service by conducting a number of ethnographic study, publishing peer-reviewed articles, delivering academic papers, attending seminars and workshops, as well as writing op-eds and participating in grassroot activism as a public anthropologist. 

My current ethnographic research is on the Rohingya people, a minority Muslim community from Buddhist dominant Myanmar, persecuted and expelled off the country fled to Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, India, middle east, the USA and all over the world.

This is my graduate research inquiring the policy response to the influx of Rohingya in Bangladesh. I am exploring the policy culture and policy process evolving in Bangladesh regarding the great Rohingya influx.

Areas of expertise: Anthropology, Ethnography, South Asian society and culture, Gender-based violence, Rohingya refugee, Nationalism, Ethnic conflict, Indigeneity, Identity, Border.

Past media coverage:

BIJOY television, Bangladesh (in Bengali)

Curriculum Vitae

Sayema Khatun
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka 1342, Bangladesh
Skype: sayema.khatun
E-mail:  [email protected] [email protected]


Academic background

2017-20   MSS in Anthropology, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA, Current Thesis Student

2007         Fall Course on “Ethnic Conflicts and Civil War” at New York University, Non-Degree, Non-Credit Course

2000         International Women's University Summer Semester 2000 (Project Area Women’s WORK), Hanover, Germany. This is an EC standard Post Graduate level semester; Scholastic Average: 22/22Credits in ECTS

1996         Master of Social Science in Anthropology Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Scholastic Average: 1st Class, Position: 1st

1995          Bachelor of Social Science in Anthropology (Honors). Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 


2021 Porous Border,Fluid identityand Violence: Emergence of world’s largest refugee camps in Bangladesh, in Sayeed Ferdous, Mirza Taslima Sultana, Parsa Sanjana Sajid (eds.) An Anthology on Contemporary Anthropology: Border, Identity and Aesthetics, Routledge. (Proposed Book Chapter)

2021 Gender-based Violence through the Lens of Anthropology and Policy Intervention in Bangladesh in Rajni Singh, Sutanuka Banerjee, and Ainoon Naher (Eds.), Conceptualizing Transnational Feminism in South Asia (Accepted Book Chapter), Dhaka

2021 ‘Bare Life’: Policy response to the influx of Rohingya in Bangladesh in Nasir Uddin (ed.) Living with Uncertainties: The Rohingya in the Place of Migration and Beyond, India: Sage Publication (Accepted Book Chapter)

2020 A Critical Discussion on PolicyPractice on Gender-based Violence in Bangladesh in Akhter, Rasheda (ed.) The Jahangirnagar Review, Part II, Social Science, Vol. XLIV, Dhaka, Bangladesh (Peer Reviewed)

2020 "We had been just like animals to them" : Life Histories from Rohingya Diaspora in Wisconsin, Mahmudul Sumon (ed.) Journal of Anthropology 24, Department of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, Bangladesh

2019 Healing extreme trauma: In quest of culturally contextualized community-based Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) for Rohingya, in Akhter, Rasheda (ed.) The Jahangirnagar Review, Part II, Social Science, Vol XLIV (Under Peer Review)

2015 lingiyo somporko o onnota o bazarmukhi biswayan, (ed.) Ainnon Naher, M. Mujibul Anam, Shahina Parvin, Sayema Khatun, Mohammad Nasir Uddin, Novel Publishing House, Dhaka.

2014 1971 Gi MYal©Y: gyw³hy‡×i His-Story, B¾Z I j¾v, cvewjK b„weÁvb, m¤úv`bv: †inbygv Avn‡g`, XvKv: `„K (Mass rape in 1971: The His-Story of Libaration War, Honor and Shame), Public Anthropology, Rahnuma Ahmed (ed.), Dhaka: DRIK

2014 “adibasi achee? acheadibashi nam bitorker probondho sonkolon"(The collection of adibasi naming debate, Introduction, compilation and editing with Mahmudul Sumon, Shanbed, Dhaka.

2010     Examining the Discourses of Political Islam in Bangladesh in Akbar Hossain Ed. The Journal of Anthropology, Vol. 15, Department of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, Bangladesh

2009 pordar ajgubikoron: adhunikota o sobbhotar srinkholar ongso (Eroticization of Veil: An Integral part of Modern Disciplining) in Ainoon Naher (ed.) Nrivijnana Potrika (Journal of Anthropology) Vol. 14, Department of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

2006 poshchimer mokabelay Islam er ontorgoto songater onudhabon (Understanding of the Conflicts within Islam Resisting Western Hegemony) in Rasheda Akhter (ed.) Nrivijnana Patrika, Vol. 11, Department of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University Dhaka.

2003  sylhet e sobuj oronne rastrer onuprobesh: eco-park- adibashi uccheder noya humki (State Penetration into the Green Forest of Sylhet: Eco-park – New Threat of Displacement for the Indigenous People) in Mesbah Kamal & Arifatul Kibria (ed.) –biponno bhumijo, ostitter sonkote adibhashi somaj, bangladesh o purbo bharoter protichitro (The Originals at peril, Indigenous people at the crisis of existence, Reflections from Bangladesh and the Eastern India), Research and Development Collective, Dhaka, Bangladesh

2001 BanglaTranslation of the article "Family and Class in Contemporary America: Notes toward an Understanding of Ideology" by Rayna Rapp in Rethinking Family, some feminist questions, Longman, New York London 1982 as samprotik markin poribar o sreni: motadorsho onudhabone neya note in Shomaj Nirikhon 81 (ed.) B.K Jahangir, Dhaka

1999 naribadi itihash rachanar sankat (Problem of Writing Feminist History), based on M.S.S. thesis in Shomaj Nirikkhon (Journal of Social Studies) 74 & 75 (ed.) B.K Jahangir, Somaj Nirikkhon Kendro(Centre For Social Studies) Dhaka University, Dhaka, Dec. 1999. 

Work experience  

Teaching Position 20 years.

February 2005-Onward Associate Professor (On Leave), Department of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Duration:

April 2001-January 2005 Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet, Bangladesh, Duration:


2000 Meghbarta, First Webmagazine from Bangladesh

Research Position

1999 Research and Development Collective (RDC), Dhaka Bangladesh,

Research experience

2018-21 Bare Life: Policy Response to the Influx of Rohingya in Bangladesh on going thesis for MSS in Anthropology, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA

2019-20 Porous Border, Fluid Identity and Violence: Emergence of World’s Largest Refugee Camp in Bangladesh, a research project presented and submitted for the Annual Research Project of Social Science Faculty, Jahangirnagar University, funded by University Grant Commission of Bangladesh  

2012-13 ekattorer birangonader prosno ebong benagli jati kolponar omimangsa (The question of the birangona of 1971 and the unresolved imagination of nationhood), Independent Research Project with a Sabbatical Leave. An edited version from this project has been published in a booklet format in the second issue of Public Anthropology in Bangladesh; Ahmed, Rahnuma (ed.), Public Nrivijnana 2, Dhaka, Bangladesh: Drik Picture Library, 2015.

2012 An Anthropological Investigation of Citizens’ and Civil Society Organizations’ (CSOs) Participation in the Formulation and Implementation of Education Policy in Bangladesh, a Group Research for PRODIP Project (Promoting Democratic Institutions and Practices, ) of The Asia Foundation, Dhaka, Bangladesh, funded by USAID; Principal Investigator: Dr. Siddiqur Rahman, Investigators: Sayema Khatun, Nasir Uddin and Dr. Muzibul Anam.

2011-12 Practices of Inheritance and Ownership in the Lived Realities of Women Living under Islamic Law, A South Asian Context, a Research for The Social Science Faculty Research Project, Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka.

2006-07 Educated Housewives: Gendered Structure of Labor Market and the Private Retreat of Women, A Research for The Social Science Faculty Research Project, Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka.

2000-02 Worked jointly as a researcher in Social and Environmental Effects of the Export-Oriented Shrimp Industry in Bangladesh; (a component of the study ‘Social and Environmental Change in Bangladesh under Globalization 1998-2001’), Principal Investigator: Professor Dr. Matiur Rahman, Investigator: Professor Tom Booth and Professor Stephane McLachlan. An academic study of University of Manitoba, Canada.

1999–2000 A joint research work entitled Socio-Economic and Environmental Impact of Shrimp Culture in South-Western Bangladesh, an integrated approach Part-One. Researcher: Dr. Abdul Ghafur, Mesbah Kamal, Matiur Rahman Dhaly, and Sayema Khatun. Prepared for: Nijera Kori and IDPAA at Proshika, Bangladesh. Researched by: Research and Development Collective. Position: Gender analyst.


2018-20 MS- Bare Life: Policy Response to the Influx of Rohingya in Bangladesh, Supervisor: Professor Erica Borstein, PhD, Anthropology, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA (Current) 

1999 M.S.S -The Problem of Writing Feminist History: Tebhaga Movement 1946-47, 1998-99. Supervisor: Professor Manosh Chowdhury, PhD, Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University

1997 BSS Honors –The Cultural Construction of Women and Health: A Village Based Study, 1996-97. Supervisor: Professor S.M. Nurul Alam. PhD, Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University

Papers presented

5 January 2021, Recession, Stimulus Package and Protection of Women Gender in Covid-19 Pandemic Response at session: Stratification and Covid-19, in annual meeting of Allied Social Science Associations meeting with conjunction of the Association for Social Economics (ASE) and Association of International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFE), Chicago

18 February 2020, †hŠb nqivwb cÖwZ‡iv‡ai `ywU ¯Í¤¢ t Kg©‡¶‡Î †hŠb nqivwb cÖwZ‡iv‡ai AvBb Ges AvBGjI Kb‡fbkb 190, Kg©‡¶‡Î mKj cÖKvi mwnsmZv I †hŠb nqivwb e‡Ü nvB‡Kv‡U©i 2009 mv‡ji wb‡`©kbv ev¯Íevqb Ges AvBGjI Kb‡fbkb 190 Gi f~wgKv kxl©K †mwgbv‡i Dc¯’vwcZ, Av‡qvR‡b Kg©Rxex bvix, RvZxq †cÖm K¬ve, XvKv

(Two safeguards for preventing sexual harassment: Act for Prevention of Sexual Harassment at workplace and ILO convention 190)presented at the seminar titled " Role of ILO convention 190 and Implementation of the High Court Directive 2009 for preventing all forms of sexual harassment and violence at workplace", organized by Working Women Alliance, National Press Club, Dhaka

28 Dec 2019 Engaging, Appling and Vernacularizing Anthropology, presented at the National Seminar on Anthropology and Development in Bangladesh, Organized by Institute of Applied Anthropology, Dhaka

5 December 2019, Courage is the way, Rape and Patriarchy in Bangladesh, presented at the Human Rights Actors Conferenceorganized by Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) Liberation War Museum, Agargaon, Dhaka

26 November 2019, Preventing Sexual Harassment at Workplace, Present Context and Compulsory legal framework presented in the roundtable organized by Bangladesh Labor Organization, The Daily Star Center, Dhaka 

21 November 2019 Discussion of Policy Brief on Gender based Violence: A Challenge for reaching SDGs, in the Project Strengthening Capacity of the General Economics Division (GED) to Integrate Population and Development Issues into Plans and Policies Project, General Economics Division Planning Commission Funded by UNFPA, Bangladesh

14 November 2019, Could we have stopped Rohingya genocide? Understanding from anthropological perspective, 6th International Conference on Bangladesh genocide and justice With especial focus on the Rohingya Persecution, Organized by Liberation War Museum, 14-16 November 2019 Dhaka, Bangladesh 

27 July 2019, Bare Life: Policy Response to the Influx of Rohingya in Bangladesh A paper written and presented on the basis of my ongoing research on Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh at the International Conference on Rohingya Crisis in Bangladesh: Challenges and Sustainable solutions in July 27-28, 2019 at the North-South University, Dhaka

2003 (June 25 & 26) kªgevRv‡i evsjv‡`‡ki bvix: bvixi kÖ‡gi Aeg~j¨vqb I A`„k¨gvbZvi cÖwµqv m¤ú‡K©AbymÜvb, Rvnv½xibMi wek¦we`¨vj‡q b„weÁvb wefvM Av‡qvwRZ Òevsjv‡`‡k b„weÁvbÓ kxl©K †mwgbv‡i Dc¯’vwcZ, weqvg AwW‡Uvwiqvg, XvKv  (Bangladeshi women at the labor market: An investigation on devaluation and invisibility of women's work), presented at the seminar titled "Anthropology in Bangladesh", organized by the Department of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University, BIAM Auditorium, Dhaka.

2000 Problem of Writing History of Women's Work and Biographical Methods, Project Area "Work", International Women's University (ifu), Hannover, Germany

Courses offered 

2019-21: 404: Medical Anthropology, 501: Contemporary Theory: Culture, Power and History

2010-14: 301: Founders of Modern Social Thought, 308 Religion and Society 511: Nationalism, Ethnicity and the Question of Identity, 406 South Asian History and Society

1999-2009: 201: Theories of Anthropology-2; 308: Applied Anthropology; 501: History, Memory and Narratives; 204: Political Power and Institutions, 404: South Asian History and Culture, 207: Bangladesh: History, Society and Culture, 104: Kinship; 207: Comparative Production Systems, 408: Contemporary Issues, 101: Introduction to Anthropology; 303: Social Inequality: Class, Gender and Color; 302: Applied Research

Professional membership and service

AAA American Anthropological Association, student member
APA American Psychological Association, graduate affiliate

AAUW American Association of University Women
Public Anthropology Group, Dhaka, Bangladesh
AAAJU Association of Anthropology Alumni of Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, Bangladesh
University Teacher's Network of Bangladesh
SASE Society for Advancement of Socio-economics

2019-20 Editor, "Nrivijnana Potrika" (Journal of Anthropology), Vol. 25, Department of Jahangirnagar, Dhaka, Bangladesh

2010-12 Member of the editorial panel of "Nrivijnana Potrika" (Journal of Anthropology), Vol. 16 & 17, Department of Jahangirnagar, Dhaka, Bangladesh 

2010   Editorial member and have worked as Editor in Charge for "Nrivijnana Potrika" (Journal of Anthropology) Vol.15, Department of Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka Bangladesh 

2006 Member of the editorial panel of "Nrivijnana Potrika" (Journal of Anthropology), Vol. 11,

Department of Jahangirnagar, Dhaka, Bangladesh 

2001-12 Research Supervision of undergraduate monographs and graduate thesis every session 

Language proficiency and computer literacy 

Excellent both in English and Bengali language in verbal and written mode, understand Hindi.

Windows XP| MS Word, MS Excel, MS Power Point| Zoom, Stream Yard, MS Team |Google Classroom| SPSS 

Community and volunteer experience


Academic lead of the non-profit community language school Akkhor Inc. offering Bangla language course as second language for age group 4-19; Responsible for developing curriculum and course materials, designing course structure, lesson plan and teaching all the levels using both digital platform and classroom experience; Organize teacher's training workshop, collaboration project with Bangla language and schools and institutes around the US to improve teaching and learning Bangla.


Main institution
Associate Professor
Other affiliation
Graduate Student
Academic discipline: