Pakistan: Parallel Narratives of the Nation-State

Current images of Pakistan are often dictated by unceasing media reports of terror attacks, ethnic or religious conflicts, and political instability. Over the last decade such news helped to solidify a picture of Pakistan as an extremely volatile and violent state. This has proven influential on many levels: businesses hesitate to invest in the country, the tourist industry is on the wane, and Pakistani citizens have increasingly problems receiving visas for other countries. These last years also had an impact on scholarly approaches to Pakistan, where studies featuring extensive fieldwork have increasingly become rare.

However, there are also other noteworthy developments: The opening of the media, the abolishment of separate electorates, or the lawyers’ movement progressively strengthened the Pakistani civil society. New NGOs and universities are established and new forms of social media are raising the concerns of the politically voiceless. Hence, the last years have shown developments into both directions: into a radicalization and a liberalization of society.

Emphasizing alternative ways of looking at Pakistan, this conference aspires at bringing together different styles of research and parallel narratives, without leaving political discourses aside. With a focus on literary and ethnological work we want to portray Pakistan from an angle that not simply aims to thwart prevailing images of ethnic and religious friction, but tries to show how they are reflected in literary texts and connect with local developments on the ground. Literary vernacular works often present dissenting views of national identity and alternative histories of the nation, which largely go unnoticed outside the country. Ethnographical case studies may bring groups into focus, which hardly ever figure in the media or in any academic discourse on Pakistan.

Through this approach we hope to engage scholars from different fields to speak about parallel narratives of the nation and the state.


Jürgen Schaflechner
Abteilung für Neusprachliche Südasienstudien
Im Neuenheimer Feld 330
69120 Heidelberg

Tel.: +49 (0)6221 548933


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Letzte Änderung: 26.11.2014
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