Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationJohns Hopkins U.
Grant numberGr. 9257
Approve DateApril 11, 2016
Project TitleAsif, Ghazal, Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid research on 'Papering the Divide: Religious Difference, Bureaucracy and Belonging in Pakistan,' supervised by Dr. Naveeda Khan
GHAZAL ASIF, then a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, was awarded funding in April 2016 to aid research on ‘Papering the Divide: Religious Difference, Bureaucracy and Belonging in Pakistan,’ supervised by Dr. Naveeda Khan. This project investigated the making of political life in the face of state hostility and neglect among the Hindu religious minority living in a mid-sized town in Sindh, Pakistan. Over fifteen months, the grantee conducted participant observation and ethnographic fieldwork along with interviews with activists, office-bearers, lawyers, judges, teachers, oral historians, and NGO workers on various tactics and strategies involved in the aspiration for political recognition, in the context of an ideological state that only partly recognizes one’s community. A district court, the local municipal government civic registry, a small temple, and finally circles of Dalit activists formed the principal sites of this project, along with legal and state archives. Particular attention was paid to how members of a beleaguered minority remained mindful of familial, national and global ties as they navigated the trajectories and concerns of silenced Hindu political life. The project addresses current debates on the nature of citizenship through an exploration of how nation, community, and belonging come to be reformulated through everyday negotiations and strategies. It further contributes to anthropological scholarship on law, religious freedom and minorities, everyday life, the paradoxes of the modern nation state.