Keynote Speech by Professor Edward Simpson
Time: 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm
Venue: Tariq Rafi Lecture Theater, Habib University
About the Speaker:
A series of emerging developments in Asia such as China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project, Turkey’s neo-Ottomanism, Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union, and reconnection of Indian diasporas evince increasing regionalism across Asia. Many of these new regionalisms depend on channeling histories and memories of oceanic and territorial routes carved over centuries by movements of people, ideas, and goods across the interconnected terrain of Eurasia and Indian Ocean. Central to bringing this past to the present are transnational networks of trade, religion, kinship, and labor constituted over the longue durée. This interdisciplinary conference brings together anthropologists, historians, sociologists, and political scientists to conceptualize emerging regional political aspirations and infrastructure projects through the past of networks. By bringing regions separated in space and pasts disconnected in time, this conference looks to conceptualize how order is constructed beyond borders.
The conference is being held under the auspices of the Interdisciplinary Development Research and Action Center (IDRAC) at Habib University, Karachi. The IDRAC Center draws its name from the Urdu word ‘Idraak’ which is a polysemic word signifying the broad plurality of processes and connotations associated with “thinking”. The Center fosters thoughtful research and action on key development challenges facing Pakistan and the larger South Asian region. It aspires to serve as a bridge between academic scholars, policy-makers, and development practitioners so that these critical arenas of social analysis and change can come together in collaboration instead of operating in isolation. Drawing upon the multidisciplinary strengths of the Social Development and Policy faculty at Habib, the Center hosts a series of activities that strengthen existing efforts at social cohesion and sustainable development in the region, while also exemplifying the role of a university in serving society and contributing to its meaningful well-being. The conference is supported by a generous grant from the American Institute of Pakistan Studies (AIPS) to facilitate the participation of US-based scholars.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Nausheen H. Anwar,
Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts (SSLA),
Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Pakistan
Dr. Nausheen H. Anwar is Associate Professor City & Regional Planning, Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts (SSLA), Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi, Pakistan. She received her PhD from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP), Columbia University. She also holds a MIA from the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), Columbia University. From 2008-2009, Nausheen was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University, and from 2012 -2014 a senior research fellow at the Asia Research Institute (ARI), National University of Singapore. Nausheen’s work focuses on policies, plans and ideas that sustain urban and regional inequality and the role planning plays in the production of space/place. She has authored a book: Infrastructure Redux: Crisis, Progress in Industrial Pakistan & Beyond (2015, Palgrave Macmillan), which explores, through detailed cases of Sialkot and Faisalabad in industrializing Punjab, the double-edged narratives of development that frame infrastructure in post-independence Pakistan. Fresh lines of enquiry concern new-fangled regimes of infrastructure planning and land development, and attended regional-urban transformations that involve forms of enclosure, protests, and formal/non-formal pathways of redress. Her ongoing research involves two projects: the first examines the intersections between infrastructure, vulnerability and violence and related reconfigurations in the gendered politics of everyday urban life in Pakistan; the second looks at the socio-spatial politics of planning regional and urban futures as imagined through mega-infrastructure projects such as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Dr. Hafeez Jamali,
Assistant Professor in Social Development & Policy Program,
Habib University, Karachi
This paper attempts to understand the (re)making of places in the wake of large-scale infrastructure projects by linking two separate strands of literature, one on the politics of place and the other on bureaucratic practices of land allotment in postcolonial societies. Ethnographically, I explore the practices of place-making emerging from ethnic Baloch fishermen's entanglements with the Pakistani government's plans and policies for developing a large commercial seaport in the coastal town of Gwadar in the southwestern Balochistan Province. The Pakistani state's ambitious plans to turn Gwadar into a Dubai-like megacity rub against the local fishermen, Baloch political activists, and ordinary residents' claims of rights in and sovereignty over land and fishing waters. Within this context, this paper seeks to understand how places like Gwadar are transformed through the friction between official developmental narratives, organized resistance by the dispossessed people and their allies, and bureaucratic practices or banal official transactions rooted in particular histories/ modalities of governance adopted by the postcolonial Pakistani state. In particular, the illegal/ informal activities of local land records officials, landowners, and real estate agents tend to interrupt, stall, and divert the implementation of official development plans or visions in significant ways (by blurring the distinction between public interest and private gain). My tentative proposition is that land in Gwadar acquires its changing significance or value from this multiplicity of encounters/ transactions involving title/sale deeds, mutations in the official record of rights, and sale/alienation entries, an outcome that is tangential to the official development vision. Consequently, the town’s social landscape is shaped as much by these small private struggles as the more visible public confrontation between the fishermen’s rights organizations, ethnic Baloch nationalist activists, and Pakistani state authorities.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Dr Hafeez Jamali is currently serving as Assistant Professor in Social Development and Policy Program at Habib University where he also heads the Interdisciplinary Development Research and Action Center (IDRAC). Dr. Hafeez Jamali holds a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin and an MA in Public Administration from University of Victoria. His research focuses on the anthropology of globalization and development, the history of Indian Ocean Trade, and the politics of identity and place in Balochistan (Pakistan). His doctoral research examines how Pakistani government’s investment in mega development projects such as transnational gas pipelines and commercial ports has affected the lives and transformed the political attitudes of indigenous Baloch people. Ethnographically, his focus is on Gwadar, a small coastal town located near the entrance of the Persian Gulf that has played an important role in the longue durée of the Indian Ocean World.
Jegan Vincent De Paul,
PhD Candidate in Visual Studies,
Nanyang Technological University,
The twenty-first century phase of ethnic conflicts in the countries of Burma, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are closely examined in the context of the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ as announced and promoted by the People’s Republic of China since 2013. As officially stated, the program seeks to establish ‘connectivity and cooperation’ amongst Eurasian countries through the construction of large scale infrastructures of railways, highways, transmission lines, communication networks, pipelines and seaports. The thesis focuses on the construction of transport infrastructure and specifically on seaports along the Indian Ocean littoral. Kayukpyu port in the west of Burma, Gwadar port in the south of Pakistan and Hambantota port in the south of Sri Lanka are newly established strategic maritime nodes on the Belt and Road logistics network. How can these specific intersections be understood in terms of their national and transnational politics, local histories, territoriality, homelands, displacement, biopolitics and human rights? What are the political and social effects of infrastructure within the Belt and Road paradigm and can these effects be visually represented towards new forms of knowledge production? Towards advancing the doctoral research and answering this question, the thesis first positions infrastructure as a phenomenon which requires a transdisciplinary study to be understood in its complexity. In conjunction with a written argument, the project considers a travelling archive as a method to collect evidence and exhibit research findings on the Belt and Road.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Jegan has worked as researcher, designer and artist in various capacities around the world, including with artist Ai Weiwei in Beijing as well as with numerous creative and cultural organizations such as LOT-EK, Voices Beyond Walls, Nakba Archive, the Affordable Housing Institute and the MIT Museum. Jegan was a research fellow at the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) from 2010-2011 where he conducted research and writing on energy, viewing energy not as a commodity but as a socio-economic network. From 2011-2012 Jegan was a lecturer at MIT where he taught studio seminars on creative responses to conflict and crisis. In 2012, he produced Compare and Contrast: Codes of Conduct, a research-based art work that juxtaposes the political and legal codes of conduct of Washington, DC with that of Silicon Valley; it was exhibited at the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial in San Jose, California Jegan is trained as an architect at the University of Toronto, where he received a Master of Architecture degree in 2007. He did graduate studies at the MIT Visual Arts Program, receiving a Master of Science in Visual Studies in 2009. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in art research at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
Dr. Aaron Mulvany,
Assistant Professor in the School of Arts, Humanities, & Social Sciences,
Habib University, Karachi
Public Works engineers and Pattanavar fishermen in the Union Territory of Pondicherry may have argued about the best mechanisms of recovery after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, but they shared one remarkable opinion: infrastructure built by the colonial administration of d' Établissements français dans l'Inde prior to the 1954 de facto handover to the Indian Union resulted in the territory’s remarkable resistance to the disaster. Comparing historical documents collected from the French Archives nationales d’outre-mer with contemporary accounts of the disaster and its aftermath, this paper explores this shared narrative of resilience in the face of a catastrophe that devastated the adjacent districts of neighboring Tamil Nadu.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Dr. Aaron Mulvany earned his Ph.D. in 2011 from the Department of South Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His eclectic research interests cut across multiple disciplines – from music, to history, to anthropology and folklore – and he has taught at every level from primary school to university. In 2000, he developed an interdisciplinary arts and culture curriculum for primary and lower secondary schools which was used in two charter schools in Philadelphia. Though he is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and jazz musician, Dr. Mulvany’s research and teaching interests now rest broadly in disaster and policy anthropology, the Indian Ocean World, flooding and water development in the global South, and folklore. He has conducted field research among Tamil fisher communities along the Coromandel Coast of India, and plans to expand his research into coastal Sindh.
PhD Candidate in Social Anthropology,
In the wake of 9/11, there has been a greater focus on the securitisation of development, but much of this research has focused on the nexus between western aid and international development, especially in those areas that are considered ‘hot spots’ in what has been called the ‘global war on terror’. However, very little has had a focus on states in the South, where the implementation of large infrastructural development has also been carried out through regimes of securitisation. My focus area, the District of Tharparkar in the south east of Pakistan, bordering India, is a site of a large open cast coal project, involving the construction of over 200 kilometres of roads, and displacement of over 9,000 people. Tharparkar lies at the border with India, a state with which Pakistan has had a tense relationship, with three wars fought over the seven decades since independence. Tharparkar was a site of this conflict in two of these wars, and can be seen very much as an ‘alienated borderland’, with a population which is over 40% Hindu, a religion identified with neighbouring India. This unique situation has created a ‘cartographic anxiety’ (Krishna 1996) among the Pakistani elites. Fieldwork in Tharparkar has uncovered a situation where the project site has been fenced, with security checkpoints and the presence of paramilitary Rangers, which impinge on the everyday lives. Development in Tharparkar is seen very much as an attempt to integrate the ‘margins’.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Mustapha has graduated with a Law Degree from the University of Dundee in 1998, and then practiced law until 2015. His field of work was development and infrastructural law, and included a period working with the Olympic Delivery Authority, which was tasked with building the Olympic site in London. In 2015, he completed an MA in the Social Anthropology of Development with Distinction from SOAS, University of London. Currently, he is doing a PhD in Social Anthropology which is part of a project funded by the EU's European Research Council called Roads and the Politics of Thought: Ethnographic Approaches to Infrastructure Development in South Asia.Register Now!
Dr. Bettina Ng’weno,
Associate Professor of African American and African Studies,
University of California, Davis
Dr. Bettina Ng’weno is Associate professor of African American and African studies at the University of California- Davis. Dr. Ng’weno, a Cultural Anthropologist by training, received her doctoral degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also co-directing the Mellon Initiative entitled “Re-imagining the Indian Ocean” at UC Davis. Her first book “Turf Wars: Territory and Citizenship in the Contemporary State” was a ground-breaking study of indigenous African-descent communities’ struggle for land rights in Colombia. Currently, Dr. Ng’weno is working on her second manuscript tentatively titled “Living to Tell the Tale: Knowledge, Diaspora, Africa and the Indian Ocean”. Her forthcoming book draws on stories told by and about Afro-Asians in the northern Indian Ocean rim, to understand the importance of daily life practices of diasporas in structuring the Indian Ocean world. Dr. Ng’weno is broadly interested in themes of diasporic mobility, race, citizenship, and everyday life. At present, she is also heading a collaborative project at UC-Davis titled ‘Reimagining Indian Ocean Worlds.’
Dr. Nausheen H. Anwar,
Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts (SSLA),
Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Pakistan
Filtering through the towns of Mirjaveh, Taftan, Maskhel and Quetta, and heading toward large urban centers like Karachi, Irani oil quietly flows across the Pak-Iran border through a complex grid of human and non-human infrastructures that respond to state policies regarding the lucrative, albeit ‘illicit’ commodity. These highly speculative infrastructures of mobility animate the imaginations, aspirations and daily lives of local actors (border guards, highway patrol, customs officials, small time financiers, petrol station owners, truck drivers, young Baluch men and women) who control the storage, transportation, circulation and exchange of oil across overland routes, and into markets in various cities and towns in Pakistan, Afghanistan and wider supra-regional economic networks in Central Asia. In this presentation, I consider oil flows in terms of three dynamics: disruption, excess and mediation. These dynamics hinder and facilitate the movement of bodies across risky spaces and times. Oil mediates between risk and uncertainty; as excess it augments the potentiality for limitless individual and urban-national economic growth; and as disruption it sets limits on a notion of progress tied to a fossilized and decaying future. I engage these ideas through ongoing ethnography in the border towns of Iran and Pakistan to consider how contested, cross-border and trans-urban flows of oil are molded into the everyday and around the intersections of markets, state and ethnicity. I propose that these transformations that link up certain small towns and city-regions across South-Central Asia through historical, contemporary and differentiated political spaces have come together in the early 21st century to form a postcolonial/postindustrial frontier zone of a speculative ‘carbonized urbanity’.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Dr. Nausheen H. Anwar is Associate Professor City & Regional Planning, Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts (SSLA), Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi, Pakistan. She received her PhD from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP), Columbia University. She also holds a MIA from the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), Columbia University. From 2008-2009, Nausheen was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University, and from 2012 -2014 a senior research fellow at the Asia Research Institute (ARI), National University of Singapore. Nausheen’s work focuses on policies, plans and ideas that sustain urban and regional inequality and the role planning plays in the production of space/place. She has authored a book: Infrastructure Redux: Crisis, Progress in Industrial Pakistan & Beyond (2015, Palgrave Macmillan), which explores, through detailed cases of Sialkot and Faisalabad in industrializing Punjab, the double-edged narratives of development that frame infrastructure in post-independence Pakistan. Fresh lines of enquiry concern new-fangled regimes of infrastructure planning and land development, and attended regional-urban transformations that involve forms of enclosure, protests, and formal/non-formal pathways of redress. Her ongoing research involves two projects: the first examines the intersections between infrastructure, vulnerability and violence and related reconfigurations in the gendered politics of everyday urban life in Pakistan; the second looks at the socio-spatial politics of planning regional and urban futures as imagined through mega-infrastructure projects such as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Dr. Nisha Mathew,
Postdoctoral Fellow in Asia Arabian Studies,
Asia research Institute, Singapore
A key aspect of the debates on transnationalism in the Persian Gulf has been its Indian Ocean connections with South Asia. Dubai with the largest number of Indian expatriate workers anywhere in the Gulf, stands out in this regard with its many similarities and differences as “India Extended.” If Dubai remains contiguous with parts of India in the social and spatial imaginaries of its migrant and resident communities including many Arabs themselves, it is imperative that we as scholars look at the city’s transnational connections in the 21st century in light of these imaginaries. The paper attempts to do this by focusing on the western Indian Ocean, or more precisely the geographical stretch between the Persian Gulf and the western coast of India, where Dubai has a ubiquitous presence marked by the trade and smuggling of gold. In the 21st century, this geography constituted through gold smuggling, became the basis of a new financial order that brought the Non-Resident Indian or the NRI to the centre of territorial politics in India as investors and as agents with adequate political clout to influence policy decisions within the country. As NRIs began to have territorial and political interests in India, leaders who are the faces of political parties in India began to have economic interests in places and cities where NRIs had a commercial presence and an economic signature of note.
India’s globalisation must thus be perceived through the activities of the NRI or the global Indian who became the prime consumer for goods produced in India and exported elsewhere, as well as the politicians who riding the NRI wave began to function in the interstices between global business and national territorial politics. While NRI interests and political affinities have gradually begun to form the subject of critique, we are yet to even attempt to probe the changing modes of functioning of politicians, preferring to band any activity of theirs under the label of ‘corruption.’
ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Dr Mathew is the Muhammad Alagil Postdoctoral Fellow in Arabia Asia Studies at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. Dr Mathew received her PhD in History from Wits University, Johannesburg in 2014. Her dissertation, Understanding Space, Politics and History in the Making of Dubai, A Global City, is a commercial history of the city explored through the complex interface of commodity, capital and community across the Indian Ocean from the 19th to the 21st century. Many different forms of informal, even illegal trade, she illustrates, have been instrumental to the evolution of Dubai as an urban space both within and beyond empire. Likewise, the contributions of such activities as smuggling and counterfeiting to the trajectory and discourse of global urban capital in 21st century Dubai also form a key aspect of her research. Informal trade in Dubai as she investigates it, is a socially, politically and culturally engineered system of transactions often coinciding with legitimate activity and underwritten by particular hierarchies of power and equations of social mobility. These hierarchies and equations have their bases in spatial imaginations and configurations beyond the city and the state, both in an abstract sense and in terms of their territorial borders.
Dr. Noman Baig,
Assistant Professor in the School of Arts, Humanities, & Social Sciences,
Habib University, Karachi
This paper seeks to trace contemporary South Asian merchants’ network. It focuses on capital and commodity channels, build on ethnic and religious structures, spanning across Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. The two regions, Karachi and Dubai, are in a symbiotic relationship, sharing labor and capital bonds for the past several decades. For instance, in Karachi, every big merchant autobiography remains incomplete without mentioning trade from Dubai. Dubai also prefigures as a place of aspiration for the upwardly mobile mercantile community more so for the currency traders, hoarding money in tax-free financial heaven of Dubai. Built on the backdrop of the soaring oil boom and of petrodollars, the city-state of Dubai serves as a trading hub for the regional markets. Dubai's strategic position in the geopolitical and business networks, dubbed as the new Silk Route, has proved it as a magnet for rich South Asian merchants, traders, and laborers alike. It significance has further increased with the growing political instability in large parts of South, Central Asia, and Middle East, forcing the flight of capital to foreign banks in Dubai. Now Dubai served as a safe heaven and an entertainment consumer capital for the large swathe of population living in political and terrorism quagmire. The shared interface of kinship, commerce, and culture between Dubai and Karachi marks a new chapter in the biography of Indian Ocean trade. Drawing on ethnographic observations of carry dealers – people transporting goods back and forth Karachi and Dubai – this paper forces us to rethink the liberal notion of sovereignty of the modern nation state.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Dr. Noman Baig is an Assistant Professor in Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. He finished his Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Texas (Austin). He is an experiential learner, knowing with existence, placing one’s existence alongside rhetorical/discursive knowledge. His current research explores the nature of consciousness arising directly from the Sufi practice of zikr/dhikr meditation, the radical negation and affirmation of one self by one self. The zikr practice places one’s intellect under erasure, suspends the thinking-I, and opens up a new possibility of an immediate experience of un-knowing, the ground of knowledge. This exhilarating research into the core of being has led him to a genre of meditative writing of Marcus Aurelius, Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, and Saint Augustine.Register Now!
Dr. Hafeez Jamali,
Assistant Professor in Social Development & Policy Program,
Habib University, Karachi
Dr Hafeez Jamali is currently serving as Assistant Professor in Social Development and Policy Program at Habib University where he also heads the Interdisciplinary Development Research and Action Center (IDRAC). Dr. Hafeez Jamali holds a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin and an MA in Public Administration from University of Victoria. His research focuses on the anthropology of globalization and development, the history of Indian Ocean Trade, and the politics of identity and place in Balochistan (Pakistan). His doctoral research examines how Pakistani government’s investment in mega development projects such as transnational gas pipelines and commercial ports has affected the lives and transformed the political attitudes of indigenous Baloch people. Ethnographically, his focus is on Gwadar, a small coastal town located near the entrance of the Persian Gulf that has played an important role in the longue durée of the Indian Ocean World.
Dr. Nida Kirmani,
Associate Professor of Sociology,
The conflict in Lyari may seem at first glance to be a highly localized, urban conflict. However, both the causes and the repercussions of the conflict span national and regional borders. In terms of the specific factors that fuel the conflict, cross-border smuggling in weapons and drugs in particular serves as a major source of revenue for criminal gangs. As well Lyari’s major ‘gangsters’, like many Pakistani politicians, often conduct their activities from abroad, particularly from the Middle East and Iran. More generally, Karachi as a whole and Lyari in particular are the product of multiple waves of migration, with many residents tracing their roots across the entire Indian Ocean region into what is now India and Iran and as far as Africa for those whose ancestors were brought to the Subcontinent as slaves. A focus on multiple forms of mobility, across and within national and regional boundaries, is key to understanding both the causes and consequences of urban conflicts such as the one taking place in Lyari.
This paper foregrounds the narratives of young men who migrated from Lyari to Dubai or who aspire to do so as means of demonstrating the various ways in which urban conflicts are both a product of and productive of multiple types of mobility. Their narratives highlight the ways in which various and shifting forms of violence experienced inside and outside Lyari serve to restrict the movements of young men to certain areas within the city. The spatial tactics utilized by these men in order to deal with multiple forms of insecurity often traverse the boundaries of the city and the nation-state itself, with many looking for an escape from the violence and social exclusion they experience in Karachi in the Gulf countries. Hence, for these men, migration to the Gulf cannot be understood purely in economic terms but rather must be understood as emerging out of multiple and intertwined insecurities and desires produced within the city.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Dr. Nida Kirmani is Associate Professor of Sociology at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) where she teaches courses on urban formations, gender and development, and development studies. She has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Manchester and has worked as a Research Fellow with the Religions and Development Research Programme at the University of Birmingham. The focus of her current research is on gender, mobility, and urban conflict. It follows the trajectory of urban violence in Lyari, the oldest slum in Karachi, and its representations and effects on everyday life. She has previously worked on the issues of gender, religion, and development in South Asia and carried out ethnographic fieldwork in New Delhi, India.
Dr. Darryl Li,
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology,
University of Chicago
This paper explores an ambiguity in the category of mercenary: what is the nature of the contract between a mercenary and his or her employer? Military service -- an activity in which exposure to organized violence assumes voluntariness and coercion at different points -- has always challenged the boundaries between the categories of labor and slavery. This paper attempts to theorize the military labor/slavery continuum by reference to the Trucial Oman Scouts (TOS), a paramilitary force created by the British in what is now the United Arab Emirates that included considerable numbers of migrants from South Asia. In order to recruit soldiers willing to submit to martial discipline in exchange for cash payment, British authorities found themselves in direct competition with the other major cash-based employer nearby, namely oil companies. These competitive constraints, as well as demands by TOS recruits themselves forced the British to extend various welfarist benefits, including pensions and compensation payments for injury and death. These debates revealed a deeper ambiguity about the nature of colonial military service, especially in a place where much of the soldiery hailed from elsewhere.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Dr. Darryl Li is an anthropologist and attorney who works on issues related to war, law, empire, race, and migration in transregional perspective. His first book, under contract with Stanford University Press, is an ethnographic and archival study of transnational jihad movements in the international legal order, with a focus on Arab volunteers who fought in the 1992–95 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He is also at work on a project funded by the Social Science Research Council on migrant military labor across the Indian Ocean. His most recent research has appeared in Law & Social Inquiry and the UCLA Law Review. He serves on the editorial committee of the Middle East Research and Information Project. He is a member of the New York bar and has written amicus briefs on issues pertaining to citizenship revocation and immigration detention, and acting as an expert witness in asylum cases in the United States and Europe. He received his PhD in anthropology and Middle Eastern studies from Harvard University and completed a concurrent JD at Yale Law School. Previously, he was a postdoctoral research scholar at Columbia University and an associate research scholar at Yale Law School.
Dr. Jatin Dua,
Assistant Professor of Anthropology,
University of Michigan
From 2008-2012, a dramatic upsurge in incidents of maritime piracy in the Western Indian Ocean, off the coast of Somalia, captivated global attention. Over 300 merchant vessels and some 3,000 seafarers were held captive with ransom amounts ranging from $200,000 and $10 million being paid to release these ships. Maritime piracy transformed this sea-space, bringing together a disparate yet interconnected range of actors from coastal fishermen to insurance adjustors, from livestock to naval sea vessels united by having a role to play in the problem of piracy and the protection of global shipping. In the popular imaginary, the worlds of piracy and counter-piracy are generally seen as drastically distinct with a rag-tag set of ‘desperados from a dysfunctional land’ (Lane 2013) pitted against the global leviathan of the shipping industry and international navies. ‘Bad’ pirates and the ‘good’ coalition of counter-piracy are divided both spatially and across the boundary of legality/illegality. This talk seeks to lift the divide between these worlds and turns to two figures on opposing ends of this gulf between legitimate and illegitimate and highlights that “protection” i.e. the ability to profit from threat (whether generated by oneself or another) is crucially a story of what counts and who counts in the world. Whose work has value and whose work is considered superfluous or even parasitical? It then ties these ideas to wider conversations about what it means to claim authority and sovereignty over others in a trans-regional space. Piracy has historically been a key space to think about legitimate and illegitimate violence and the thin lines between state and non-state in the histories of capitalism. Here I locate this story of piracy within a broader field of claim-making and value-extraction. I introduce ideas of abaan (protection) and aman (safe passage) alongside the practices and controversies surrounding counter-piracy regimes to show the labor and violence that lies at the heart of oceanic mobility and sovereignty.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Dr. Jatin Dua is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on maritime piracy in the Indian Ocean and projects and processes of governance, law, and economy along the East African coast. His current book project explores maritime piracy in the Western Indian Ocean within frameworks of protection, risk and regulation by moving between the worlds of coastal communities in northern Somalia, maritime insurance adjustors in London, and the global shipping industry.
PhD Candidate at Duke University,
Visiting Faculty, Habib University
ABSTRACT: This paper explores changes in arms and mercenary trade in the early 20th century through a micro historical case of a government issue rifle going missing in Bahrain. In 1926, a Baloch soldier in the Bahraini Levy Force murders his supervisor and soon after offers himself for arrest. The murder weapon, however, is nowhere to be found. The paper follows the search for the weapon: a government issued rifle that should not have been in the hands of a mercenary recently introduced to regulations on a soldier’s access to arms. These regulations, I argue, would have been novel to those used to seeing mercenaries being recruited with their own weapons. The British, however, preferred keeping soldiers and arms separate. Through the investigation and recommendations proposed afterwards, the paper highlights the prolonged, uneven, and reversible process of separating arms and soldiers. It argues that states ultimately realized that in interest of control, they could realistically only import from the market one between arms and mercenaries. Private foreign mercenaries could be controlled if arms trade was de-marketized; or vice-versa. Through the case of a mercenary being separated from his means of production, i.e. guns, the paper examines a significant but often ignored 20th century international norm of allowing arms to be traded as a private commodity but not soldiers.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Ameem Lutfi is a doctoral candidate in the Cultural Anthropology department at Duke University. Currently, he is teaching courses in History and Anthropology at Habib University. Broadly, Lutfi’s work explores themes of mobility, temporality, and state-formation. His doctoral work traces in the longue durée, the practice of Baloch men serving as mercenaries in the Indian Ocean. The changes and continuities in mercenary recruitment, Lutfi argues, opens a window into the myriad ways in which states buy and sell protection. For his research, Lutfi conducted archival and ethnographic research in Tanzania, Kenya, Bahrain, Oman, UAE, England and Pakistan. Working at the intersection of Anthropology and History, his work asks how disconnected pasts continue to shape the coming future.Register Now!
Dr. Azfar Moin,
Associate Professor in Department of Religious Studies,
University of Texas-Austin
ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Dr. Azfar Moin received a Ph.D. in History from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and taught South Asian history at Southern Methodist University prior to joining UT-Austin. He studies the history of the pre-modern Islamic world from comparative perspectives with a focus on concepts and practices of sovereignty. His book ‘The Millennial Sovereign: Sacred Kingship and Sainthood in Islam’ won the Best First Book in the History of Religions Award from the American Academy of Religion, John F. Richards Prize in South Asian History from the American Historical Association, and Honorable Mention for the Bernard S. Cohn Book Prize (South Asia) from the Association for Asian Studies.
Dr. Alaine Hutson,
Associate Professor of History,
Many scholars think of slavery in Islamic areas as non-racialized and “benign” because people from several continents were enslaved in Istanbul at the heart of the Ottoman Empire and in its Arab Middle Eastern territories from medieval times well into the nineteenth century and were regarded as humans not just property, which resulted in humane instead of brutal treatment. Modern scholars have attributed the benign slave experience partially to the “non-productive” work in which Middle Eastern slaves were engaged and partly to the Islamic norms and laws governing the holding of slaves. “Tying His Hands to His Neck” is part of a larger manuscript I Now Pray for My Freedom about slavery on both sides of the Arabian Peninsula in the twentieth century which continues to question the old paradigms about slavery in the Middle East. I Now Pray for My Freedom looks at African and Baloch slaves in commercial, agricultural and domestic jobs and hypothesizes that the power dynamics of slave holder-enslaved, coupled with abolitionist and global economic pressures, resulted in Arabian slaveholder practices and patterns that were in some ways similar to those of Atlantic slavery.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Dr. Alaine Hutson is currently a full professor at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, TX. She has also taught at Missouri State University, Michigan State University and Houston Community College. She specializes in African and Middle East history with an emphasis on slavery and gender in Islamic societies.
Dr. Hutson’s research is currently surrounding the larger question: Is there an African Diaspora in the Middle East? In pursuit of that research she has traveled to seminars and conferences in: Cape Town, South Africa; Amman, Jordan; and Salzburg, Austria. She recently was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Faculty Award and is a scholar-in-residence at New York University through the Faculty Resource Network as well as a research affiliate at University of Texas at Austin. She has been a Henry C. McBay Fellow and a UNCF/Mellon Faculty Fellow resident at the James Weldon Johnson Institute at Emory University.
She was educated at the University of Pennsylvania (BA) and the University of Ibadan, Nigeria as an undergraduate and attended Indiana University (MA, PhD), Oxford University and SOAS for postgraduate study.
Department of Cultural Anthropology,
How can we analyze the production of social orders that are constitutive of multiple political domains? This paper offers an answer by developing a network-centered view that shifts our focus from old imperial centers to their shared frontiers as the loci of new regionalisms. In frontier spaces, states connect through a shared social tissue interwoven by old diasporas whose routes crisscross these frontiers past and present.
Azerbaijanis are one such diaspora whose homeland, Transcaucasia, is a three-way land bridge between Iran, Turkey, and Russia. By following Azerbaijanis’ cross-border movement and exchanges, this paper reveals a transnational web of cultural diplomats working for, alongside, and sometimes against geopolitical designs made in Tehran, Moscow, and Ankara. Across borders, states act through and with this transnational web beyond the constraints of the formal interstate system. When seen from within a single state, the entangled web appears lopsided. Placing Azerbaijanis at its center, however, offers a different perspective: a single, interconnected political landscape of West Asia, held together by ties of family, trade, religion, and shared past. Calling this region West Asia opens up the closed box of the Middle East through the bridge of Transcaucasia and its erstwhile Azerbaijani diaspora.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Serkan Yolacan is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University. His research focuses on the role of diasporas in the transformation of state and society. His dissertation project, entitled Order beyond Borders: The Azerbaijani Triangle across Iran, Turkey, and Russia, employs diasporic analytics to explore transnational networks of religion, education, and business across Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, and Turkey. He is a graduate of Sabanci University, Central European University, and Duke University and has previously worked as Projects Officer at the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation in Istanbul.
Dr. Uzma Rizvi,
Associate Professor in Social Sciences & Cultural Studies,
Pratt Institute, New York
ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Dr. Uzma Rizvi is an anthropological archaeologist specializing in the archaeology of the first cities. She is an Associate Professor in Social Sciences and Cultural Studies at the Pratt Institute, New York, where she teaches anthropology, ancient urbanism, issues in new materialisms, critical heritage studies, memory and war/trauma studies, decolonization/the postcolonial critique, and social practice. Her current research work is largely focused on Ancient India and Ancient UAE, both during the 3rd millennium BCE. Beyond these vast umbrellas of interest, she has a few distinct projects that have been occupying her research world of late. These include, but are not limited to, understanding ancient subjectivity and related to that, the idea of an intimate architecture; war and trauma in relationship to the urban fabric; and finally, epistemological critiques of archaeology that have emerged from her earlier work in postcolonial theory.
Dr. Ali Gibran Siddiqui,
Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Sciences,
Institute of Business Administration (IBA)
THE NAQSHBANDIYYA AFTER KHWAJA AHRAR: NETWORKS OF TRADE IN CENTRAL AND SOUTH ASIA
This project re-imagines the Ahrari and the Juybari branches of the Naqshbandi Sufi tariqa, or order, in fifteenth and sixteenth-century Central Asia as examples of trust networks and circulation societies and reappraises their roles in Transoxianan politics and society. Rooted in the Khwajagani Sufi movement popular among Central Asian merchants, the Naqshbandi network grew out of the organizational changes pioneered by the Sufi leader Khwaja Ubayd Allah Ahrar (1404-90). Commanding a large number of followers and property in cities across the Persianate world, Khwaja Ahrar controlled the movement of a large number of people and goods across Asia. Though his network collapsed following the Shibanid Uzbek invasion of Transoxiana in the early sixteenth century, Khwaja Ahrar had set a precedent for the creation of a second, more extensive Naqshbandi network controlled by the Juybari Sufis Khwaja Muhammad Islam (d. 1563) and his son Khwaja Saad (d. 1589).
As trust networks, the Ahrari and the Juybari networks employed several strategies to reduce the risk of loss associated with dishonest commercial transactions in long-distance trade in the pre- and early-modern periods. Shaykhs, or Sufi leaders, personally limited tariqa affiliation to individuals screened for their honesty. Shaykhs also employed a vast trans-regional network of members to report on the honesty and dishonesty of travelling members. The shaykh also used his political influence to ensure the safe passage of caravans in foreign lands. These methods thus reveal that the network was centralized around the figure of the shaykh.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Dr. Ali Gibran Siddiqui is Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) where he teaches courses on South Asian History and Islamic/Central Asian History. He is a historian by training and holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in history from Ohio State University, Columbus. He is proficient in English, Urdu, Persian, Uzbek and Russian, and his research focuses on transregional Sufi-merchant networks in fifteenth and sixteenth-century Central Asia and India. His doctoral research examined the role of Sufi networks or Tariqa’s in creating and facilitating trade networks between South and Central Asia.Register Now!
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Contact: +92 21 111 042242 (HABIB)