First-Year Seminar: The Meaning of Pakistan: History, Culture, Art


Pakistan is the second largest Muslim nation and the sixth most populous country in the world. First imagined as an anti-majoritarian and anti-imperial idea, the nation came to be split between East and West Pakistan, with a hostile Indian nation dividing the country. The subsequent emergence of Bangladesh, from within, exposed the complexities of US imperial and Indian power, colonialism, identity, ethnicity, race, nationalism and repression. More recently, the War on Terror has once again exploited the ethnic and cultural conflicts produced by world histories of power and resistance. The events of the past two hundred years have undoubtedly and violently exacerbated the politicization of social and cultural identities. This course situates Pakistan in the context of pre-colonial social formations, British colonialism, internal colonialism, US imperialism, the Cold War, Soviet interests, Indian regional hegemony and then turns to the powerful and diverse struggles launched by its own citizens against these external forces. How did successive empires construct and politicize social identities, and how did people contest and adapt these? How did caste, gender, race and religion shape empire and anti-imperial histories? Our sources will be historical, ethnographic, and literary. We will cover topics such as colonial fantasies, decolonization, the political uses of social categories of tribe, caste, language and gender, the political economy of militarism, terrorism, 'development', activism, diasporic formations, poetry, music and art. The course will deepen our collective understanding of a critical series of developments in world history. Just as crucially, we will build a framework within which to address the stereotypes about Pakistan that dominate popular and media discourses today.
Course Attributes: EN H; FYS; BU Hum; BU IS; AS HUM; AS LCD; AS SD I; FA HUM; AR HUM; AS SC

Section 01

First-Year Seminar: The Meaning of Pakistan: History, Culture, Art - 01
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