Arup Rahee is a Fakir, based in Dhaka , Bangladesh, whose ways of interpreting discourses and intervening through creative actions defy conventional role of theorist- activist-artist modelled on the western/colonial modernism.
His organic participation in world-making, while traversing social, cultural and political spheres, includes a sustained effort in decolonizing epistemological practices, a process that can help address problems as well as questions arising out of the historical and political context of his time.
His decision to discontinue academic studies in his early life can now be seen as the starting point of his resistance against the oppressive, western colonial education system. What prompted him to delink from established knowledge base is his decision to relinquish the social privileges ‘normal’ academic education offers, which is generally acquired through an unconditional obedience to the colonial academic knowledge industry. The decision to ‘opt out’ predicated a life of struggles through which ArupRahee has so far been able to devise his actions in an increasingly market regulated society where the ‘economic interest’ has taken over all other interests in the last two decades or so.
It is not possible to sufficiently frame Rahee’s line of actions and intellectual practice by way of an analytical frame structured through binary oppositions between work-life, theory-praxis, etc. Since his lifestyle practices, music, songs, addas, poetry, and organizational engagement essentially fracture the colonialist stances based on such dualities, giving rise to the possibility of convergences through which his conscientizing role in a (post)colonial society like Bangladesh is maintained.
Rahee’s activities constitute a mode of living-thinking-politicking-art-making which takes on a horizontal form rather that a vertical one – since to him they exist on the same plane while he is simultaneously involved in all of them.
His works may be best understood as a raft of parallel practices – those that have been inspired by the Baul-Fakir-Shahajiya traditions of Bengal. In addition, a critical engagement with different philosophical traditions of the world also helped to embolden Rahee’s position. In Fakiri-Shahajiya traditions, both world-making and self-making is dynamically related, and ‘art’ and ‘theory’ is understood as an inseparable whole rather than separate modes of action. Therefore, Rahee’s aim is to overturn the dominant regime of interpretations and representations by complicating its social-political processes. By appropriating some of the Fakiri-Shahajiya stratagems which hold the potential for decolonizing both self and society, he keeps attending to his goals.
His areas of work and interest include: Colonialism, decolonization and decentering of epistemologies, world ‘philosophical’ traditions; secular, secularism and secularization; Baul-Fakir and sahajiya traditions; Lalon Fakir and his relevance in developing the resistant corpus; cultural history of Bangladesh and Bengal region; modern nations and borders and its impact on communities; personality politics and elitism in historical context; democracy and civil society; politics of ‘development’, etc.