Bengal Studies has a vibrant existence with scholars from different academic disciplines engaged in teaching, research and publishing in various areas of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. They are working from various centres situated in Bangladesh, India, and, other countries. As the discipline evolves, there is a need of professional platform for regular interaction between these scholars, a mechanism for disseminating information about the activities of different centres of teaching and research, and referred journals to publish the best research.
The idea of forming a common platform for scholars of Bengal Studies took shape through multi-phased interaction between scholars of Bengali Language, Literature and Culture. It was initiated during a seminar on Buddhadeb Basu at Assam University, Silchar. Some of the participants of that seminar met on 13th November, 2008, to give a formal shape to the idea of holding Antarjatik Banglabidya Sammelan on regular basis. This was followed by another meeting of leading scholars of Bengali and other disciplines from various Universities of Bangladesh held on 17th June, 2009, at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The decision to expand the scope of the intended organization from Bengali Studies to Bengal Studies was proposed in that meeting.
As an outcome of such interactions, the 1st International Congress of Bengal Studies was organized by the Department of Modern Indian Languages and Literary Studies, University of Delhi, India, during 25th – 28th February, 2010, with Prof. Hayat Mamud, renowned litterateur, former professor of Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh, and Fellow of the Bangla Academy, Dhaka, as the Academic President and Dr. Amitava Chakraborty as the Convener.
On the concluding day of the Congress, 28th February, 2010, International Society of Bengal Studies was formed as a platform of Bengal Studies scholars to organize International Congress of Bengal Studies in collaboration with academic institutions at regular intervals and to take up other projects such as creation of a Bengal Studies Database, publication of refereed journal etc.
The first Executive Council of the Society was formed in the same meeting with individual office bearers. Prof. Tsuyoshi Nara, Professor Emeritus, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Japan, was nominated as the President of the Society and Dr. Amitava Chakraborty, University of Delhi, was nominated as the General Secretary of the Society.
The Society is maintained by Bangabidya Trust, with Prof. Pabitra Sarkar as the Chairperson and Dr. Afroja Khatun as the Executive Trustee. The Society has three country chapters- Bangladesh Chapter, India Chapter and Japan Chapter. General Body meeting of the Society is held bi-annually during the International Congress of Bengal Studies.
The Society publishes a double-blind peer-reviewed journal, Bangabidya: International Journal of Bengal Studies with an editorial team consisting of scholars from various continents.
The Society has also instituted an award, Bangabidya Sammanana, awarded in recognition of the contribution by scholars hailing from countries outside the Indian subcontinent. The recipients till date are Prof. Dusan Zbavitel, Czech Republic and Prof. Ralph Nicholas, USA.
The Society has, in collaboration with Bangla Academy, Dhaka, prepared and published a Referencing Manual for Research Writings in Bengali, the first of its kind in Bengali. The decision was taken in the 2011 ICBS at Dhaka. This was followed by workshops on drafts and circulation of drafts online seeking feedback from scholars. A special session on the draft was organized in the 2015 ICBS at Tokyo, followed by a workshop in Jadavpur University, Kolkata; University of Dhaka, Dhaka; and Bangla Academy, Dhaka.
India Chapter of the Society has already compiled a database of Ph.D. theses in Bengali, which is scheduled to be published in 2018. Apart from that the Japan Chapter has taken the initiative to create a web-based database of Ph.D. and M.Phil thesis in various sub-disciplines of Bengal Studies from all over the world.
The Society successfully collaborated with the University of Dhaka and Bangla Academy, Dhaka, to organize the 2nd International Congress of Bengal Studies during 17th – 20th December, 2011; with the University of Calcutta, Kolkata, for organizing the 3rd ICBS during 19th – 22nd November, 2013; with the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Japan, for organizing the 4th ICBS during 11-14 December, 2015. The Society has collaborated with Jahangirnagar University, Savar, Dhaka, Bangladesh, for organizing the 5th ICBS during 25th -28th January, 2018.