The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the entire globe, requiring quick action from governments and the populace to stem the flow of transmission. With many in quarantine or lockdown, the pandemic has changed the daily way of life for many around the world. This week, we spoke with members of the Mittal Institute team in India, Nepal, and Pakistan to get a firsthand look into the situation on the ground in South Asia, from recent governmental guidance and regulations to the response of the population and how it will impact society.
Category : Pakistan
Numair Abbasi, a mixed media artist from Pakistan, recently joined the Mittal Institute in the latest group of Visiting Artist Fellows. Numair’s practice draws on popular culture, anecdotes, and colloquialisms to stage personal and social narratives in attempts to challenge the politics behind how gender is socially constructed and performed.
Last week, the LUMS Syed Ahsan Ali & Syed Maratib School of Education (SOE) in Lahore, Pakistan hosted a talk with development economist Lant Pritchett, entitled “The Global Learning Crisis: What We Do Know, What We Don’t.” Pritchett is an Associate at the Building State Capability Program at Harvard’s Center for International Development, and the RISE Research Director at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford.
From its cultural zenith in the days of Akbar, Lahore has remained a major center of knowledge and creativity in South Asia. As a free-spirited city that was home to the Mayo School — among other great institutions of knowledge — Lahore fed the imaginations of artists, poets, and writers, from B.C. Sanyal, Amrita Shergil, and Chughtai, to Faiz, Manto, and Khushwant Singh. But in the decades following Ayub’s martial law, as the space for arts and humanities diminished in Pakistan’s public discourse, so too did Lahore’s claim of being a vibrant cultural capital.
In the north of Pakistan lies Gilgit-Baltistan, a Shia-majority region of Sunni-dominated Pakistan, and a contested border area that forms part of disputed Kashmir. Though typically seen as an idyllic paradise, many overlook how the region is governed as a suspect security zone. We spoke with Nosheen Ali, author of Delusional States: Feeling Rule and Development in Pakistan’s Northern Frontier, to learn more about the region of Gilgit-Baltistan, its people, and the challenges they face. Ali will speak at the Mittal Institute’s upcoming seminar on Friday, October 25, alongside Professor Ali Asani, Professor of Indo-Muslim Religion and Cultures at Harvard University.
The rural community of Pind Begwal, Pakistan, lies just 20 miles from the capital city of Islamabad. But throughout the community, medical infrastructure remains limited, only assuaged by a small, dilapidated health center that suffers from regular doctor absenteeism. Last year, a team by the name of Saving 9 participated in the Mittal Institute’s Seed for Change competition, earning a grant to help launch their Community Aid and Response in Emergencies (CARE) project in Pind Begwal. In September 2018, the team launched the program, their goal to create a robust system that would provide emergency medical treatment to a community that has limited access to healthcare.
In a recent paper, Professor Ian Talbot, a 2018 Mittal Institute Visiting Fellow and Professor at the University of Southampton, delved into the precarious politics of Pakistan’s formative years in the 1950s. Below is an excerpt from the paper; click the link within this post to view the paper in its entirety.
Sarah Khan, a Postgraduate Associate at Yale MacMillan Center, recently visited Harvard to discuss her team’s field experiment in Lahore during the 2018 Pakistan General Elections and their work to understand the gender gap in voter turnout in Pakistan. “The question that we’re interested in as it pertains to Pakistan is: what explains — and relatedly — how can we close the large and persistent gender gap in voter turnout in Pakistan?” Khan asked.
In Pakistan and India, the figure of the “educated girl” has emerged over the past few decades, linked to the countries’ politics, educational reform, and campaigns for development. But what is the true meaning behind this idealized figure of Muslim women and girls?
Shenila Khoja-Moolji is an Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Bowdoin College, where she examines the relationships between race, gender, religion, and power across nations and with particular attention to Muslim populations. She recently authored the book Forging the Ideal Educated Girl: The Production of Desirable Subjects in Muslim South Asia, where she takes an in-depth exploration of her research into the history and culture surrounding the figure of the “educated girl” in postcolonial Pakistan and colonial India.
“I was born in a very literary family full of artists, poets, and writers. The art was in the blood, and then my uncle, who is also a visual artist internationally recognized, so he basically channeled my interest into visual arts. Since then I have been involved in visual arts,” says Mahbub Jokhio, one of the Mittal Institute’s newest Visiting Artist Fellows for Spring 2019.
For years, Mariam Chughtai has immersed herself in the study of the complex politics of identity, religion, and terrorism in Pakistan. Today, as The Mittal Institute’s Babar Ali fellow, she is writing a book that brings her research and real-world experience in South Asia to life, exploring the tension between the politics and culture of Pakistan to rewrite the narrative that has been erroneously given to the nation.
2018 Visiting Artist Imran Channa is a contemporary artist from Pakistan. His art practice interrogates the intersection between power and knowledge. Channa’s primary focus is on the documentation and dissemination of historical narratives and events. He explores how fabricated narratives can override our collective memory to shape individual and social consciousness and alter human responses. In this interview, we discuss how he first became interested in installation artwork and the benefits of making art abroad.