Image: Courtesy of Dev N. Pathak, Sociology, SAU.
About The Department - Vision and Beyond

Over the last half century or so, a vast body of knowledge(s) on the region has evolved within South Asia that mostly remain within the countries of their origin due to a number of reasons. In this specific context, there is a crucial need to share some of this knowledge in contemporary times when, despite assertions of localisations and mini-narratives, the universal does retain its emphasis through a constant dialectics of the two. The debate between the local and universal or mini-narratives and meta-narratives continue to rage, and is more clearly visible in the context of South Asian context. Even so, we are acutely aware of the non-existence of regular and serious forums for South Asian scholarship in social sciences to showcase our own research and thinking. We are also quite conscious of the fact that the process of establishing sociology in the region has created its own peculiarities which has established close inter-relationships between sociology and social anthropology, history, cultural studies, archeology and other related disciplines. We consider the porousness of South Asian sociology one of its most enduring strengths. On the other hand, we are not unaware of the unfortunate regressions sociology has experienced in different South Asian contexts over the last 30 years or so marked by numerous institutional failures.

It is within the context(s) outlined above that the Department of Sociology at South Asian university, initiated in 2011 witihn the Faculty of Social Sciences contributes to teaching, training and knowledge production. It is not intended to be a mere forum for the production of cutting-edge intellectual knowledge and exchange of that knowledge traversing across national borders in South Asia and beyond. Our expectation is that this knowledge would dislocate the persistence of an imposed framework emanating from the colonisation process and postcolonial politics of knowledge. Despite the passage of over fifty years since the process of official decolonization began in the region, much of the analyses of our problems, situations, histories and dynamics emanate from Euro American academia; this is certainly the case when it comes to conceptual formulations and theoretical approaches that are being employed in exploring the region’s social and cultural complexities often without much self-reflection.

The Department of Sociology strongly believes in the need to reformulate this situation by effectively centering South Asia without naively shunning thought from these established centers of knowledge be they in Europe or North America. We believe in an active and robust engagement with these issues within South Asia. In this context, through the work of its faculty and the research of graduate students, the Department would bring forward the newer forms of knowledge that comprehends and represents the South Asian context with a more authoritative and nuanced voice. We strongly believe in the need to actively intervene in the process of knowledge formation through a constant sharing of knowledge that the region produces as well as through interaction with the world beyond the region.

The courses taught in the Department as well as the research carried out by its faculty members reflect this overall vision and our collective commitment towards innovation, move beyond untenable stereotypes, and explore a new world of knowledge within the discipline of Sociology.

Class of 2011, Department of Sociology, South Asian University; Image: Courtesy of Dev N. Pathak, Sociology, SAU.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Sociology@SAU-Seminar: Life in a ‘No-go Area’

Life in a ‘No-go Area’:
Experiences of Marginalisation and Resistance in
Lyari, Karachi

Nida Kirmani
Lahore University of Management Sciences

Abstract: The case of Lyari in Karachi offers important insights into the ways in which various communities of marginalized citizens experience the effects the Pakistani nation-state at the local level. Referred to by its residents as ‘Karachi ki maan’ (the mother of Karachi), the area of Lyari predates the creation of the Pakistan. As such, many of the area’s residents identify as members of ‘indigenous communities’, distinguishing themselves from migrants who arrived in Karachi after Partition, particularly those who came from India, and claiming their right to the city. Over the past twelve years, Lyari has come to be identified as one of the city’s ‘no-go areas’ because of on-going conflicts between gangs, political parties, and state security agencies. The residents of Lyari narrate a sense of marginalization from the rest of Karachi, which began after Partition but which was significantly compounded as a result of the conflict in the area.  In this talk I will attempt to trace the economic, social and political roots of this conflict, placing it within the context of the development of Karachi and the Pakistani nation-state, through the multiple and competing narratives of its residents.

Nida Kirmani is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. Her research has previously explored the construction of the locality and identities amongst women in a Muslim-majority neighbourhood in Delhi. After completing her PhD from the University of Manchester, she studied the relationship of women's movements in India and Pakistan with Islam. Her current research focuses on issues of marginalisation and insecurity in the area of Lyari, Karachi.

Date: 4th March 2015, Wednesday
Time: 02.30 PM

FSI HALL, South Asian University,
Akbar Bhawan, Chanakyapuri,
New Delhi 110021


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