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NCSU-NCCU Conference

Final Report

Conference Program

Title: Contextualizing Pakistan: From Within and Without

Date: April 11-12, 2014

Our joint conference aims to examine how historical and socio-cultural interconnections shape and influence identity in Pakistan.  It does not move away from the study of state and society but, instead, examines how “external” connections (i.e., the “without”) at the national, regional and local levels can contour identities (and conflicts about it) “within” Pakistan.  The conference will be organized around two themes:

1.  The first theme examines how regional and local identities within Pakistan are/were shaped and constituted by “external” phenomena (e.g., historical legacies that predate Partition, identities that Partition undid and/or re-imagined, socio-cultural formations that extend from beyond the state’s territorial limits and/or the geography of post-1947 and 1971 Pakistan).  Whether focused on or in Sindh, Punjab, the northern administrative units, Baluchistan or Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, we hope to bring into comparative dialogue work on regional and local identities that have been shaped by (but not subsumed by) state-centered narratives about the nation of Pakistan.

2.  The second theme focuses on continuities and disruptions that have shaped (and continue to influence) the networks of movement that link Pakistan’s territory to other locations in the Indian Ocean region and the world at-large.  While these networks (linked to employment, trade, pilgrimage, imperial connection and religious affiliation) often predate the creation of Pakistan, they continue to historically and socio-culturally shape identity in Pakistan.  This second theme aims to bring together studies about networks of movement to explore, as under the first theme, how life “outside” of Pakistan contours and shapes what it means to be Pakistani. 

A main goal of this conference is to draw new bodies of research into conversation with older scholarship on state and society so as to develop a vision of Pakistan Studies that is mutually shaped by historical and socio-cultural phenomena which are both “outside” and “inside” the territorial boundaries of the Pakistani state.