Punjab Research Group

cfp: PAKISTAN BEYOND TREMORS AND TERROR: Critical Engagements With Political, Economic And Cultural Change

Posted in Conferences by Pippa on January 21, 2014
Conference Date: Thursday, May 29th 2014 – Friday, May 30th 2014Location: University of Toronto, Ryerson University and York University in Toronto, Canada

Deadline for Submissions: Feb 16, 2014.

Call for Papers:

As host to a daily onslaught of bomb-blasts, ‘honour killings’, and ‘mob’ violence, Pakistan regularly populates the pages of the international mainstream press. But these popular journalistic accounts often leave the impression that the country is embroiled in a spate of irrationality, violence and Islamic fundamentalism. Alternatively, liberal Pakistanis, if they make an appearance in the drama, are celebrated as carriers of the torch of progress, challenging the dominance of religious conservatism with their unrivalled ‘toleration’, their capitalist ‘development’, and their support for the Pakistani state’s military offensives and the broader ‘War on Terror’. This is the narrative typically delivered to the world.

Unfortunately, this is also a narrative which has not remained within the ambit of journalism. Much of recent scholarly work on Pakistan too has been guilty of reproducing a crude and overly-narrow analysis of the country and its people, an analysis (if one could call it that) which seems to be more committed to promoting US foreign policy objectives than to stimulating any serious academic inquiry. On the one hand, for instance, we have Anatol Lieven, in Pakistan: A Hard Country, declaring Pakistan to be “a highly conservative, archaic, even sometimes quite inert and somnolent mass of different societies” and, on the other, we have Stephen Cohen, in The Idea of Pakistan, inviting US intervention to awaken this slumbering nation. Invariably, much of this analysis re-Orientalizes Pakistan and views the country as overrun by ‘mad’ fundamentalists and militant Islamists, while prescribing a variant of imperialism, militarism and/or liberalism as an antidote to it.

This conference will challenge these views and will bring together scholars and students whose research moves beyond these prevailing ways to a more complex understanding of Pakistan and its people. We encourage contributions which critically interrogate the ‘War on Terror’ by placing it within the broader imperatives of US imperialism, and which question the assumption that liberalism is the ‘natural’ antidote to fundamentalism. We also invite papers which seek to go beyond popular analysis of religious violence – which sees its perpetrators as ‘irrational mobs’ – by probing what motivates people to commit the escalating scale of inhuman acts and violence, and whether the Pakistani state and its ruling classes can remain indifferent or, as some have argued, complicit in the perpetuation of this deathly violence. Finally, in addition to contesting popular discourses around Islamic fundamentalism and the ‘War on Terror’, this conference also intends to give attention to other topics scarcely covered in the mainstream.

In this regard, we wish to focus on a rapidly growing population undergoing immense social change. The onslaught of neoliberal globalisation poses fundamental questions for the changing nature of Pakistan’s political economy. These changes affect not only the rural space, and concomitant struggles of the peasantry, but also impact Pakistan’s burgeoning informal economy and manifest themselves through a marked ‘feminisation of poverty’ and multifarious struggles in urban (and urbanising) areas. What effects have a surging private sector (including private media, corporations and NGOs) had on the prospect of upward social mobility for women? Moreover, rapidly expanding, and often sensationalist, private media also raises questions about the role of art, cinema and cultural expression as a vehicle towards a radical and transformative praxis.

In bringing together scholars and students of a critical outlook, this conference has a three-fold purpose. Firstly, and most immediately, it hopes to provide a necessary counterpoint to the dominance of rhetorically rich but theoretically poor analysis of Pakistan. Secondly, we expect that, at the conference’s conclusion, the attendees will get a better sense of the breadth of critical scholarship on Pakistan, and be in a better position to identify sites of theoretical and political difference and agreement. Finally, it is also our desire that the conference will provide an opportunity for various critical scholars to begin to work together and co-ordinate their research on Pakistan.

Submission Topics:
We invite both panel proposals and papers on themes and topics including but not limited to:

  • Imperialism, the ‘War on Terror’, and regional geopolitics
  • The Pakistani state, military, and judiciary
  • Re-Orientalization of Pakistan
  • Interrogating modernity in Pakistan’s context
  • Fundamentalism, militant Islam  and sectarian violence
  • Agrarian economy and agrarian transitions
  • Informal economy and precarity/precarious labour
  • Patriarchy, gender and feminisms
  • Urbanization and social change
  • Social movements, peasant politics, trade unionism, and labour struggles
  • Nationalisms and regional tensions
  • Popular Culture, literature, art and the Left
  • Development, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the International Financial Institutions (IFIs)
  • Mal-development, poverty and destitution
  • Diaspora: its contradictions and contributions towards and altered status quo

Submissions:

Please send your submissions to: submit@pakistanconference.org

Panel submissions: Please submit a working title and 250-word abstract for the panel, along with individual paper titles and their respective 250-word abstracts. Please also include the names, email addresses, and affiliated institutions or organizations of all panelists.

Individual paper submissions: Please submit a 250-word abstract that includes your name, email address,and affiliated institution or organization.

Deadline for submissions is 12:00 am, Feb 16, 2014. Accepted presenters will receive notification by email by March 1, 2014.

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Pakistan Workshop, 11-13th May 2012. Secularity, Globalisation and Power

Posted in Conferences, News/Information by Pippa on November 14, 2011

Both secularity and globalisation are understood to be phenomena that are intrinsically connected to rise of the post Enlightenment modern world. However, in order to understand the relationship between secularity, globalisation and power it is necessary for these themes to be contextualised in order to give them and the links between them, analytical meaning. In the case of Pakistan, a few of the “sub” concerns that emerge from this theme and need to be foregrounded to help frame contemporary Pakistan include:

1. The rise, spread – and perception – of international terrorism.
2. The increasingly interlinked and expansive information and communication systems. These are one of the hallmarks of the ostensibly globalised world and are an essential tool for the propagation of ideas. What does the recent increase in the regulation of the internet tell us about the Pakistani state? Do mobile phone texts and messages on blogs have the capacity to contribute to meaningful social change?
3. The rapid spread of the media in Pakistan. This is linked to debates on religious extremism and power not only because of what the media focuses on but because of the increased “craving” for news that arose in Pakistan post September 11th (Naqvi, 2010). What kind of popular “cravings” does the media respond to? Is it a force for progressive change in Pakistan or simply an inflammatory medium?
4. Changing demographics including an increase of women in the workplace
5. The growth of an urban middle class and consumer society
6. An evolving industrial base and the significant expansion in recent years of the service economy
7. The impact of the 3 Ts – low cost travel, telephone calls and satellite TV – on engagement with the Pakistani (professional) diaspora especially in Europe and North America
8. The internationalisation of Pakistani companies and the overseas interest in Pakistan as an emerging market
The deadline for abstracts is 10th February 2012, after which the organisers will make a selection and inform the participants of their decision. The finished papers would be required two weeks before the workshop, so they can be pre circulated to all participants.

For further information, contact pakistanworkshop@gmail.com or become a fan of the facebook group “Pakistan Workshop”. Further information is also available on the Pakistan Workshop website:
http://www.pakistanworkshop.org

Anushay Malik and Arif Zaman. Pakistan Workshop 2012 Organisers
Full details attached: Pakistan Workshop 2012-1

Pakistan militants strengthen in heartland By Chris Brummitt

Posted in Articles by Pippa on March 26, 2009

BAHAWALPUR, Pakistan (AP) — The compound bore no sign. Residents referred to it simply as the school for “jihadi fighters,” speaking in awe of the expensive horses stabled within its high walls — and the extremists who rode them bareback in the dusty fields around it. In classrooms nearby, teachers drilled boys as young as 8 in an uncompromising brand of Islam that called for holy war against enemies of the faith. Sitting cross-legged on the floor of the Dar-ul-uloom Madina school, they rocked back and forth as they recited sections of the Quran, Islam’s holy book.

 

Both facilities are run by an al-Qaida-linked terror network, Jaish-e-Mohammed, in the heart of Pakistan, hundreds of miles from the Afghan border that is the global focus of the fight against terrorism. Their existence raises questions about the government’s pledge to crack down on terror groups accused of high-profile attacks in Pakistan and India, and ties to global terror plots.

 

Authorities say militant groups in Punjab are increasingly sending out fighters to Afghanistan and the border region, adding teeth to an insurgency spreading across Pakistan that has stirred fears about the country’s stability and the safety of its nuclear weapons.

 

To read full article: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gvs-qnwlwy-lPuv5mJP-VNaLf5cwD9740F500

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The slow demise of a proud nation By Shahan Mufti – GlobalPost

Posted in Articles by Pippa on March 24, 2009

With each act of terrorism, cultural life in Pakistan suffers another deadly blow.

Published: March 23, 2009

 

LAHORE — Pakistan’s second city, widely considered to be the country’s cultural capital, is undergoing gradual but unsettling change.

 

For hundreds if not thousands of years a bastion of social and cultural life for not only the region but the world, the city has become a soft target for those who disagree with the Pakistani government and its policies, or with society at large.

 

Terrorists and militants no longer see a reason to limit their attacks to security forces and government institutions and they now increasingly see value in targets of deep cultural significance.  

Ayeda Naqvi, a writer based in Lahore says she believes such attacks “aren’t just isolated acts of terrorism.”

 

In November last year, Naqvi was at the “Al-Hamra” open air theater in Lahore to see her favorite mystical Pakistani folk singer perform at the World Performing Arts Festival. The festival which showcased Pakistani artists and others from around the world was attacked with handful of planted bombs on its final night. Such acts of terrorism are “part of a larger effort to wipe the slate of Pakistani culture clean,” Naqvi said.

 

For full article: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/pakistan/090312/the-slow-demise-proud-nation

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