Zehra Husain

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York, Graduate Center, City U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9905

Approve Date

October 25, 2019

Project Title

Husain, Zehra (New York, Graduate Center, City U. of) "Race, Visibility, and Cosmopolitanism in a Pakistani Port Town"

This ethnographic project investigates how members of a racialized minority in a neighborhood in Karachi use cosmopolitan affiliations with boxing to mark and contest their marginalization. Lyari Town has historically been home to economic migrants from the Persian Gulf, among them former slaves of African origin. In the postcolonial period, the neighborhood is stereotyped as a criminality-ridden place against which talented boxers figure as notable, but still highly racialized exceptions. Over a period of 12 months, I will conduct participant observation and interviews with journalists and photographers during reporting assignments to investigate the concrete production of Lyari’s image in national and local media. At the same time, I will observe boxing clubs to examine how Lyari’s residents use sports to challenge violent stereotypes, and claim belonging in the nation. Emphasizing circulations of global media, national mass media production, and vernacular self-representations, I explore how marginalized communities recast the dominant gaze of the mass media through their image-making practices to assert a more affirming but racialized identity within the nation. By highlighting these cosmopolitan orientations, the project conceptualizes historically distinct configurations of black racial imaginaries that are unique to the Indian Ocean region.