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Conferences & Workshops in Pakistan 2014-2015

Urban Life and the Working Poor in South Asia
Conference Organized by: CAORC and the Department of Architecture and Planning, NED University, Karachi
January 4-5, 2016

The workshop will explore how the working poor survive in their private and work lives in South Asia’s expanding cities. We seek to encourage discussion on the life worlds of the poor in urban South Asia, specifically how working class men and women experience the economically uncertain urban milieu. The workshop will link the issue of economic marginalization and poverty to larger and pertinent discussion on minority rights, access to land tenure, distribution of wealth, equitable access to resources, gender equity and food security. Related to this, we want to discuss issues of urban form and aesthetics, leisure and pleasure, and the new ways in which young and old reconfigure urban space to create meaningful lives for themselves. How the urban is visualized, what affect it produces, what kinds of creative energies it unleashes and how new media takes on this challenge remain discussions that need further retrospection and analysis.

The Second International Karachi Conference
Conference Organized by: CAORC in Karachi
November 21-23, 2014

This conference was sponsored by AIPS, the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, the Arts Council of Pakistan, the Karachi Youth Initiative (KYI), and the Avari Group, in addition to other partners. The keynote for the conference was delivered by Dr. Kamran Asdar Ali. The primary objective of the Karachi Conference is to highlight the importance of Karachi and all facts of its urban existence through a scholarly exercise, for understanding the role that it has assumed as a regional hub. A second objective is to bring together local and international academic institutions, scholars, and development and social activists who have worked in Karachi, to engage with each other and with other like-minded local individuals for future academic endeavors, especially those relevant to the city.

The first two days of the conference were devoted to its academic proceedings, where different scholars covering various facets of Karachi spoke in thematically designed sessions, and the third day was devoted to film screenings in and on Karachi. Dr. Asma Ibrahim, President, delivered an introductory address. Other sessions focused on Karachi’s history, Karachi’s intangible heritage, ‘The Role of Women in the Socio-Political History of Karachi,’ ‘Citizenship and emerging socio-political realties,’ Money, density and conflict,’ and ‘Socio-physical Infrastructure.’ This last session is also known as the Parveen Rehman session, and is held every year within the conference. It is dedicated to a development related theme, in memory of the slain Karachi development expert. In 2014, renowned planner and architect Arif Hasan acted as chair, and oversaw the delivery of three papers by development professionals on problems connected to Karachi’s urban-scape. The conference ended with a summation of by Senior Advisor Dr. Kaleemullah Lashari, and the day was brought to a close by a performance on Karachi by renowned artist Sheema Kirmani and her troupe.

Locally Sourced: Recovering the Local in History, Culture and Politics in Pakistan
Conference Organized by: Matthew A. Cook (North Carolina Central University), David Gilmartin (North Carolina State University) and Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro (Pakistan Institute of Development Economics) and funded by the Department of Education at the Pakistan Institute for Development Economics, Islamabad
August 7-8, 2015

The conference, “Locally Sourced: Recovering the Local in History, Culture and Politics in Pakistan,” consisted of two day-long sessions of papers and discussions that focused on the role of “local studies” in the development of Pakistani history and culture.  It began with an overview of the important (if sometimes controversial) roles that “local” histories play in the larger development of historical studies internationally.  The conference then focused on the particular pressures that have tended to limit the role of local history in the reconstruction of Pakistan’s colonial and recent past.  Senior and junior scholars from a variety of disciplines (e.g., history, literary studies, and anthropology) presented case studies, ranging from a historical study of local organizing by railway workers in Lahore, to a study about a local press and its role in on-going ethnic violence in Karachi, to a presentation on the Karachi International Book Fair as a way to define the “literary local,” to local histories of Hindu castes in Tharparkar, to the relationship between international networks and Gwadar’s local Baloch history, to a micro-history of “virtuous” investing in a local Karachi market, to a history of local competition between Hindu castes and it shaped the British annexation of Sindh.  Each paper presentation produced its own lively discussions about the “local” in the history of Pakistan.  The larger value of the conference to Pakistan Studies lay in the explicit foregrounding of the “local” as a concept for both expanding and deepening the ways that scholars can approach Pakistan’s complicated history.
The complete conference program can be viewed on the AIPS website: