Ping-Hsiu Alice Lin
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationChinese U. of Hong Kong
Grant numberGr. 9761
Approve DateOctober 24, 2018
Project TitleLin, Ping-hsiu Alice, Chinese U. of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong - To aid research on 'Spiritual Objects, Affective Practices, and Contested Values: Islam and Gemstone Networks in Peshawar, Pakistan,' supervised by Dr. Gordon Mathews
PING-HSIU ALICE LIN, then a graduate student at Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, was awarded funding in October 2018 to aid research on ‘Spiritual Objects, Affective Practices, and Contested Values: Islam and Gemstone Networks in Peshawar, Pakistan,’ supervised by Dr. Gordon Mathews. This multi-sited ethnography examines the making and valuing of gemstones extracted from the Hindu Kush mountains as they move from mines and markets located along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to international trading hubs in Bangkok, where gatekeepers of scientific knowledge and a set of market aesthetics jointly determine a mineral’s worth. Decades of neocolonialism and militancy in Afghanistan and parts of northern Pakistan have intensified such extractive economies and movement of peoples, giving rise to Peshawar’s place as a mineral trading hub. The ‘gem’ quality stones that are transported across borders and seas then encounter a different regime of classification and valuation determined by actors and institutions with a formalized knowledge of minerals. Drawing on fifteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Thailand, and Hong Kong, as well as historical work, the research explores notions of quality and value in minerals through the lives of gem dealers and cutters of Peshawar and the material culture of the region. The research offers an insight into the socio-cultural implications of the homogenizing forces of scientific and technological knowledge of the global North to the lives of gem-producing areas.