AccueilIslam and Regional Cultures in Pakistan

Islam and Regional Cultures in Pakistan

Journée du CEIAS

CEIAS conference

*  *  *

Publié le lundi 12 mai 2014 par Rémi Boivin

Résumé

With the hope of throwing new light on the transformations of Pakistani society, this one-day conference intends to move the focus away from two dominant discourses on Pakistan : that is, on the one hand, the security discourse of political and media circles that reduces Pakistan to a state on the fringe of failure, trying to cope with radical Islam and terrorism; and, on the other hand, Pakistan’s official nationalism, which rests on a unitary conception of the nation that disregards the cultural and religious diversity of the country, stressing instead Islam and Urdu as national unifiers while relegating regional cultures to folklore. This conference hopes to partly fill this gap by inviting participants to illustrate the complex, lived experience of Islam in Pakistan, the identity component of religious practices that do not fit in the dominant norm, and their inscription in local political and ethnic relations. Papers would ideally use first-hand observation and/or analyses of cultural productions to examine circumscribed case studies.

Annonce

Program

6 June 2014

JOURNEE DU CEIAS 2014

Centre for South Asian Studies (CEIAS), EHESS, Paris – Room 638-640

9:00 Reception
9:30 Welcome note by the directors of the CEIAS
9:45 Introductory note by the organizers Michel Boivin and Julien Levesque

Panel 1 – “Ethnicized Islam”: religion as marker of ethnicity

Chair: Amélie Blom (Sciences Po Paris, Europe-Asia Campus, Le Havre)

  • 10:00 Magnus Marsden (School of Oriental and African Studies, London) Interethnic cooperation among transnational Afghan merchants within and beyond Northern Pakistan
  • 10:30 Mariam Abou Zahab (CERI-Sciences Po & INALCO, Paris) “We are not taliban, what they are practicing is not our Islam”: is there a Pashtun Islam?

11:00 Coffee break

  • 11:15 Paul Rollier (University College London) “Here comes the Lion”: ethnic identity, Islam and the general elections in Punjab
  • 11:45 Julien Levesque (CEIAS-EHESS, Paris) “Ethnicized Sufism” in Sindh: whose identity marker?

12:15 General discussion
12:45 Lunch

Panel 2 – Cultures of resistance: cultural productions as subversive discourses

Chair: Laurent Gayer (CNRS-CERI-Sciences Po, Paris)

  • 14:00 Nukhbah Taj Langah (Forman Christian College, Lahore) Cultural Representations as Subversive Discourses in South Punjab
  • 14:30 Nosheen Ali (Habib University, Karachi) Between State and Society: Poetic Engagements with Power in Northern Pakistan
  • 15:00 James Caron (School of Oriental and African Studies, London) Frontier Anti-Politics, Pashto Small Media, and the Rise of Deobandi Populism

15:30 Coffee break

Panel 3 – Places of worship: religious practices, attendance and local power relations

Chair: Sabrina Mervin (CNRS-CEIFR, Paris)

  • 15:45 Michel Boivin (CNRS-CEIAS, Paris) Unity or Non-Duality? Vernacular interpretations of wahdat al-wujud in some traditions of Sindh
  • 16:15 Jürgen Schaflechner (South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University) The solidification of tradition: Hindu identity formations at a Goddess shrine in Baluchistan
  • 4:45 Muhammad Asif Khan (CEIAS-EHESS, Paris) The convergence of time and space: mapping the influence and presence of Daʿwat i Islāmī in Mianwali through their mosque network

5:15 General discussion
5:50 Note of thanks
6:00 Evening buffet

Argument

With the hope of throwing new light on the transformations of Pakistani society, this one-day conference intends to move the focus away from two dominant discourses on Pakistan : that is, on the one hand, the security discourse of political and media circles that reduces Pakistan to a state on the fringe of failure, trying to cope with radical Islam and terrorism; and, on the other hand, Pakistan’s official nationalism, which rests on a unitary conception of the nation that disregards the cultural and religious diversity of the country, stressing instead Islam and Urdu as national unifiers while relegating regional cultures to folklore.The chosen problematique interrogates the interplay between Islam – in all its diverse discourses and practices – and the regional cultures of Pakistan – which have been, since the independence of the country, subject to multiple forms of appropriation and the basis of various demands. Asserting that Pakistan is a country suffering of an identity crisis has become commonplace in academic works as well as in the media (Ali 2009, Jaffrelot 2002, Shaikh 2009). Pakistan is thus often described as an artificial construct that has not yet reached a national consensus pertaining to the nation and citizenship. The two-nation theory, which justified the creation of a separate state for Indian Muslims, found itself contested from the country’s birth: the best-known case is of course that of the Bengali movement that eventually led to the independence of Bangladesh in 1971. Other groups, in Balochistan, Sindh, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, also denounced Pakistani nationalism’s centralizing tendency as they believed it left no place for them. But apart from the ethnic dimension and the issue of federalism, it is Islam itself, the common identity marker supposed to unite all Pakistanis, that became the object of pressures and conflict. Although Pakistan was meant to be a state for all Muslims of the subcontinent, different groups sought to impose their conception of Islam on the state. The most visible manifestation of such contestation over the definition of Islam came with the anti-Ahmadi movement that led to the eventual exclusion of Ahmadis from the status of Muslim in the 1970s. Oppositions to Pakistani state nationalism and debates on Islam have attracted the interest of the media, think-tanks and researchers often only to the extent that they were considered as threats for the stability of the state or sparked ethnic or sectarian violence (except, notably, Ayres 2009).Research on Pakistan has often tended to focus on large narratives without necessarily trying to observe how these grand transformations play out on a local scale, a trend rather reinforced by the renewed attention given to the region since September 11, 2001. This conference hopes to partly fill this gap by inviting participants to illustrate the complex, lived experience of Islam in Pakistan, the identity component of religious practices that do not fit in the dominant norm, and their inscription in local political and ethnic relations. Papers would ideally use first-hand observation and/or analyses of cultural productions to examine circumscribed case studies.

Panel 1 – “Ethnicized Islam”: religion as marker of ethnicityAs the reference to Islam is omnipresent in the field of Pakistani politics, nearly all political parties – whether religious or secular – frame some of their demands in the language of Islam. In reaction to the two-nation theory and to the perceived association of the Pakistani state with a discourse favoring a reformist Islam, some ethno-national groups have articulated a different vision of Islam which then became the marker of an ethnic identity. The most exemplary case of such an “ethnicized Islam” (Verkaaik 2004, 2007) is perhaps the way the Sindhi nationalist leader G. M. Sayed portrayed Sufism as a characteristic of Sindhis. Communications will explore the use of the reference to Islam as an element in identity formation, by the central state or provincial administrations, by political parties or ethno-nationalist movements.

Panel 2 – Cultures of resistance: cultural productions as subversive discoursesRegional identities and discourses that differ from Pakistan’s official national narrative are not only expressed in the political realm but in cultural productions as well. This panel will examine the role of regional literatures, songs and music, and other cultural productions such as films, in the production of collective symbols, a crucial part of identity formation. Papers in this panel may also look into he various appropriations of folklore as a source for a national imaginaire, and the role of provincial administrations and cultural institutions, such as the Lok Virsa.

Panel 3 – Places of worship: religious practices, attendance and local power relationsMosques, mausoleums, madrassas and khanqahs constituent important loci of socialization in Pakistan. In this regard, they can act as community or sectarian spaces but also create an environment of exchange and blurring of social cleavages. Communications will study the religious practices of some places of worship and their related discourses in order to understand how dominants norms are discussed, appropriated, trespassed or ignored by the faithful. This panel will also be the occasion to examine the attendance of places of worship, for instance on the occasion of pilgrimages and festivals, and to explore how these religious buildings and events are inscribed in the local fabric of power relations.

References Ali, Mubarak (2009) Pakistan in Search of Identity, Karachi: Pakistan Studies Centre, University of KarachiAyres, Alyssa (2009) Speaking Like A State. Language and Nationalism in Pakistan, Cambridge University PressJaffrelot, Christophe (ed.) (2002) Pakistan: Nationalism Without A Nation?, New Delhi: ManoharMarsden, Magnus (ed.) (2010) Islam and Society in Pakistan. Anthropological Perspectives, Karachi: Oxford University PressRing, Laura (2006) Zenana: Everyday Peace in a Karachi Apartment Building, Indiana University PressShaikh, Farzana (2009) Making Sense of Pakistan, New York: Columbia University PressVerkaaik, Oskar (2004) Migrants and Militants. Fun and Urban Violence in Pakistan, Princeton: Princeton University Press

Verkaaik, Oskar (2007) "Ethnicizing Islam: 'Sindhi Sufis', 'Muhajir Modernists' and 'Tribal Islamists' in Pakistan", in Saeed Shafqat (ed.), New Perspectives on Pakistan. Visions for the Future, Oxford University Press

Lieux

  • 190-198 avenue de France
    Paris, France (75013)

Dates

  • vendredi 06 juin 2014

Fichiers attachés

Mots-clés

  • Pakistan, South Asia, Islam, Culture, Identity, Ethnicity

Contacts

  • Julien Levesque
    courriel : julien [dot] levesque [at] ehess [dot] fr
  • Michel Boivin
    courriel : mboivin [at] ehess [dot] fr

Source de l'information

  • Julien Levesque
    courriel : julien [dot] levesque [at] ehess [dot] fr

Pour citer cette annonce

« Islam and Regional Cultures in Pakistan », Colloque, Calenda, Publié le lundi 12 mai 2014, http://calenda.org/287699