Society for Cultural Anthropology: Perspectives on Pakistan

Hosted by SCA members Veena Das (Professor of Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University) and Naveeda Khan (Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University)

Profiles and contact information:

Unknown, "Lawyers, Human Rights Activists, Academics, Political Workers Under Arrest." May 1, 2009.

When Cultural Anthropology approached us to set up this website devoted to recent events in Pakistan, we were very pleased to accept. It gave us the opportunity to draw people together in conversation to maintain a certain intensity of focus on Pakistan.  While Pakistan has come under considerable scrutiny of late, most of these recent writings have been overly preoccupied with the threats to global security posed by Pakistan both in the form of secreted nuclear weapons and religious extremism. While not discounting the seriousness of these concerns, it seemed to us that what was missing from the singular focus on Pakistan was the regional dimension. If we cast our eyes regionally we see that several South Asian nation-states have been engulfed by various kinds of crises of late, many of which have involved the military (Bangladesh and Myanmar jump most prominently to mind). It behooves us to ask how our perspectives on Pakistan shift if we take into consideration the fragility of politics, the crisis of democracy, and the unchecked strength of the military in the region.

A second concern of ours has been to ask how we might take this opportunity to review our previous positions and analyses of Pakistan from within and without. The reason for this concern is that too often Pakistan is tied to a single narrative of emergence with one end posited as its only and authentic end, which is that as a homeland for Muslims, however construed. However, we want to invite consideration of other possible futures and lend our imaginations to this task.

Unknown, "Top pick by ZardozZ News and Satire for cartoons on the crisis in Pakistan found around the blogosphere the week of November 18.." May 1, 2009.

We put these concerns of ours forward as food for thought and we hope to have your input into them. But we also invite your concerns to guide our conversations (or else we fear that this website may end up being a sounding board for us alone, a dreaded fate). Towards that end we ask that you send us your papers, comments, citations, links, what have you so that we may post them and in the process foster a meaningful conversation and develop an archive of some depth and usefulness.

"Of Children and Jinn: An Inquiry into an Unexpected Friendship during Uncertain Times," Naveeda Khan

"The Speech of Generals: Some Meditations on Pakistan by way of Subaltern Studies," Naveeda Khan

"The Roots of Violence," Eqbal Ahmad

"Voices from Pakistan: The Student Protests," Erum Haider

"Unravelling of the General's Game Plan," Salman Akram Raja

"Suicidal Attacks in Pakistan: Only One of its Kinds (with Comment by Naveeda Khan)," Akhtar Ali Syed

"Unarmed Pathans," Mukulika Banerjee

"Pakistan's False Alternatives," Faisal Devji

"Disconnected and Depoliticized in Pakistan: Elite Inaction in Emergency Times," Mahnoor Khan

"The Roots of Pakistan's Political Crisis," Sadia Abbas

Crisis and Beyond: Pakistan in the 20th Century (Routledge University Press, Delhi, 2008).

Statement From Academics For Freedom, Pakistan