Ali Riaz is Professor and Chair of Department of Politics and Government at Illinois State University, USA. He has previously taught at universities in Bangladesh, England and South Carolina. He also worked as a broadcast journalist at the BBC World Service in London, and was a research fellow at the Institute of South East Asian Studies (ISEAS) at Singapore. Riaz earned his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Hawai'I under the East West Center fellowship. His research interests include Islamist politics, South Asian politics, and political economy of media. Dr. Riaz has served as a consultant to various international organizations including the UNDP, the DfID, the SSRC, and the BTI.
Bangladesh is a country of paradoxes. It has attracted considerable attention from the international media and western policy-makers in recent years, often for the wrong reasons: corruption, natural disasters caused by its precarious geographical location, and volatile political situations with several military coups, following its independence from Pakistan in 1971. Institutional corruption, growing religious intolerance and Islamist militancy have both reflected the weakness of the state and undermined its capacity. Yet the country has demonstrated significant economic potential and has achieved successes in areas such as female education, population control and reductions in child mortality. This study examines the political processes which engendered these paradoxical tendencies, taking into account the problems of democratization and the effects this has had, and will continue to have, in the wider South Asian region, and provides a comprehensive and unique overview of political and historical developments in Bangladesh since 1971.