Beyond Crisis: Re-evaluating Pakistan

Posted by sepoy on February 26, 2010 · 3 mins read

Very Promising new collection of essays on Pakistan. It will make a fine addition to this.

Beyond Crisis: Re-evaluating Pakistan
Edited by Naveeda Khan
Published by: Routledge India
Publication Date: 23/02/2010
Pages: 544

About the Book
Through the essays in this volume, we see how the failure of the state becomes a moment to ruminate on the artificiality of this most modern construct, the failure of nationalism, an opportunity to dream of alternative modes of association, and the failure of sovereignty to consider the threats and possibilities of the realm of foreignness within the nation-state as within the self.

The ambition of this volume is not only to complicate standing representations of Pakistan. It is take Pakistan out of the status of exceptionalism that its multiple crises have endowed upon it. By now, many scholars have written of how exile, migrancy, refugeedom, and other modes of displacement constitute modern subjectivities. The arguments made in the book say that Pakistan is no stranger to this condition of human immigrancy and therefore, can be pressed into service in helping us to understand our present condition.

Table of Contents:

Foreword, Veena Das, series editor

Introduction, Naveeda Khan

Part I: Artificiality of the State
1. Towards a Lyric History of India - Aamir Mufti
2. The Politics of Commensuration: The Violence of Partition and the Making of the Pakistani State - Tahir Hasnain Naqvi
3. A Real Terrorist- Oskar Verkaaik
4. Re-imagining the “Land of the Pure”: A Sufi Master reclaims Islamic Orthodoxy and Pakistani Identity- Robert Rozehnal

Part II The Difficulty of Nationalist Visions
5. Registering Crisis: Ethnicity in Pakistani Cinema of the 1960s and 70s- Iftikhar Dadi
6. Listening to the Enemy: The Pakistani Army, Violence and Memories of 1971- Yasmin Saikia
7. Strength of the State Meets Strength of the Street: The 1972 Labor Struggle in Karachi- Kamran Asdar Ali
8. Jamaat-I Islami Pakistan: Learning from the Left - Humaira Iqtidar

Part III Foreignness Within
9. From Muslims to Apostates: The Legal Construction of Muslim Identity and Ahmadi Difference- Asad A. Ahmed
10. Words that Wound: Archiving Hate in the Making of Hindu and Muslim Publics in Bombay- Deepak Mehta
11. Itineraries of Conversion: Judaic Paths to a Muslim Pakistan- Sadia Abbas
12. Iqbal and Karbala - Syed Akbar Hyder

Part IV The Everyday
13. Look Who's Talking Now: Voice and Authority in Pakistani Shi'i Women's Gatherings- Amy Bard
14. Madrassa Metrics: The Statistics and Rhetoric of Religious Enrollment in Pakistan- Tahir Andrabi,, Jishnu Das, Asim Ijaz Khwaja and Tristan Zajonc
15. Uncivil Politics and the Appropriation of Planning in Islamabad- Matthew Hull
16. Mosque Construction or the Violence of the Ordinary- Naveeda Khan

Living the Tensions of the State, the Nation, and the Everyday- David Gilmartin

Anthropology and the Pakistani National Imaginary- Katherine Pratt Ewing

Note on the Editor
Notes on Contributors


Conrad Barwa | February 28, 2010

Interesting, though some of the chapters sound a little bit fluffy in terms of their subject matter considering the title of the volume. I didn't see the earlier recommendations on your reading list before but after having gone through them, I will add some of my suggestions here (hope you don't mind), I might quibble slightly over the lack of (good) single volume histories on Pakistan. I think Owen-Bennett Jones' 'Pakistan in the Eye of the Storm' is actually very good considering its size (less than 300 pages in a small page layout) and his chapters on the 1971 war and creation of Bangladesh as well as Musharraf's coup and the Kargil affair are very good. Think it would be best single intro for anybody unfamiliar with Pakistan. A more weighty history can be found in Christophe Jaffrelot's 'A History of Pakistan and Its Origins' in the Anthem South Asia series - a decent volume that covers almost all the major themes and issues and far better than the Sri Lankan and Indian volumes in the same series. I also understand the desire to avoid the military aspects which have been played to death but how can you have a reading list on Pakistan without anything on the Pakistan military: the standard Stephen Cohen's 'The Pakistani Army' (also available in Urdu I beleive) and the more interesting Shuja Nawaz's 'Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army, and the Wars Within' very good for its blistering critique of the Army and its performance from someone who has observed it from close quarters; provocative but in the wrong way is Brian Cloughley's 'War, Coups and Terror: Pakistan's Army in Years of Turmoil' an incredibly sympathetic, bordering on the semi-delusional account of the Pakistani army's recent years by someone who is clearly too much in love with the army for his own good. Farzana Shaikh's 'Making Sense of Pakistan' is not a history but is a well thought out examination of Pakistani nationalism and politics with a lot of history thrown in, certainly gives much food for thought. More lightweight is Nicholas Schmidle's 'To Live or to Perish Forever: Two Tumultuous Years in Pakistan' very much a foreign journalist's account of his time in Pakistan but noteworthy because he actually manages to interview several figures like the Aziz brothers and travels to restricted areas like Gwadar to investigate the nature of infrastructure development there. Also imo, Tariq Ali's book 'Can Pakistan Survive' is actually much better than his later works on anything to do with Pakistan; partly because it contains much more in-depth material and sociological/political observations on developments within the country and also because of its predictions and assumptions, which now more than 20 years later, lets you know when not to take this ubiquitous opinionist too seriously.

Stephen Dedalus | March 03, 2010

Thanks for adding what looks like a promising new book on Pakistan. I would also add that your reading list is relatively silent on Balochistan save Beatrice Nicolini's excellent article. I can think of at least four recent/contemporary works that should be on a critial reading list regarding Balochistan: 1) Ricardo Redaelli (1997) The Father's Bow: the Khanate of Kalat and British India. Manent (Firenze). 2) Simanti Dutta (2003) Imperial Mappings in Savage Spaces: Balochistan and British India. B.R. Publishing Corporation, India. 3) Beatrice Nicolini (2004) Makran, Oman and Zanzibar: Three-terminal Cultural Corridor in the Western Indian Ocean. 4) Paul Titus (1997)(Ed.) Marginality and Modernity: Ethnicity and Change in Post-colonial Balochistan. Oxford University Press, Karachi.

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