03 May 2021

The Other Side of Gentrification in Bangladesh

03 May 2021 - Written by PhMuseum

In the fast-growing city of Dhaka, Bangladeshi photographer Mehbuba Mahzabeen Hasan concentrates her research on the poverty-stricken district of Ganaktuli, exposing the daily challenges of the few inhabitants still living there.

The Dhaka South City Corporation Colony in Ganaktuli is a place where its residents are at war with life every single day. These Dalits - name for people belonging to the lowest caste in the Indian subcontinent - were brought here from different parts of South India almost three hundred years ago by the British Colonial rulers.

Even at the time of the partition, these “depressed classes” never went back to their homeland. They were poor but always had work here, which gave them some sort of stability. In 1962, the Dacca City Corporation Colony was moved from Azimpur to an abandoned British-era tuberculosis hospital in Ganaktuli, which consisted of several four-storey buildings with a total of forty tiny rooms. As they grew in number over the years, the residents built hundreds of one or two-room flats in the nooks and crannies of the original ones. Other colonies were made eventually elsewhere, but Ganaktuli still remained the main one; and even if they had to face many challenges, the place has always given shelter to entire generations.

In 2019, Dhaka South City Corporation evicted the whole community to demolish and erect new residential buildings. The inhabitants were not even provided with any substitute homes; only a small compensation was offered, which was of course, not enough. Entire families were dispersed; those who could afford a little rented nearby, some moved in with their relatives in other colonies, but most of them just got swallowed up in the merciless jaws of the ever-growing city of Dhaka.

Words and Pictures by Mehbuba Mahzabeen Hasan.


Mehbuba Mahzabeen Hasan is an emerging photographer, based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She did three years diploma in professional photography from Pathshala South Asian Media Institute. She is currently involved in freelance projects while at the same time works side by side with international events Chobi Mela International Festival of Photography and Dhaka Art Summit. Find her on PHmuseum and Instagram.


This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PHmuseum curators.

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