A critical eye on Pakistan

  • June 21, 2017
A critical eye on Pakistan

Two scholars have set up a research cluster on Pakistan to broaden discussion on issues relating to the country.

The post-9/11 era has exacerbated this trend where international aid has siphoned off the intellectual energy from Pakistan's higher education institutions by diverting attention towards security-centric topics or important but select priorities defined from abroad.

Arif Naveed and Mahvish Ahmad

Two scholars have set up a research cluster on Pakistan to explore innovative and critical scholarship on the country.

Gates Cambridge Scholar Arif Naveed [2014] and Cambridge International Trust Scholar Mahvish Ahmad have established the ‘Critical Pakistan at Cambridge ‘Research Cluster, based initially at the Centre for South Asia Studies with membership from across the departments of the University of Cambridge. It aims to approach existing research on Pakistan with a critical eye. To do so, it will function as a specialist forum on Pakistan, organising readings of new scholarship on Pakistan and inviting scholars of Pakistan from around the world to present their latest research. It will also provide opportunities for students and academics to present their work on Pakistan to peers who are well-versed on the political, intellectual and empirical debates pertinent to the country.

The research cluster came about due to a long-held and widely-shared concern among scholars of Pakistan that research has often been defined and shaped by international donors and state interests. Mahvish and Arif, who are doing their PhDs on Sociology and Education respectively, say: "The post-9/11 era has exacerbated this trend where international aid has siphoned off the intellectual energy from Pakistan's higher education institutions by diverting attention towards security-centric topics or important but select priorities defined from abroad. Meanwhile, state policy and the general political environment has reduced the space for critical scholarship in Pakistan, exemplified by a letter distributed to universities by the Higher Education Commission in 2014, illustrating the ways in which vague reference to ideology is deployed to curtail scholarly freedom and subject the already fragile community of scholars to new forms of censorship.

"These drivers of and limitations to research on Pakistan do not denigrate the excellent scholarship that is, nevertheless, produced, but they do call for both a more discerning approach and a more creative exploration of other, lesser-researched topics, on Pakistan. Creating a network of scholars on Pakistan is fundamental to these endeavours and we envisage this research cluster as a central forum for the exchange of ideas and knowledge."

The cluster's inaugural forum was held on May 24th and was led by Pakistani scholar Kamran Asdar Ali, a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin, and the President of the American Institute of Pakistan Studies. The forum was also attended by many other scholars and students and generated a rich discussion on the future of social research in Pakistan.

*For more information email ma643@cam.ac.uk or man48@cam.ac.uk. Picture credit: Wikimedia commons. Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad.

 

 

Muhammad Arif Naveed

Muhammad Arif Naveed

  • Alumni
  • Pakistan
  • 2014 PhD Education
  • Jesus College

I am an Assistant Professor of Education and International Development at the University of Bath. My research focuses on the expansion of mass-schooling in the Global South and its implications for social stratification and economic inequality. I am developing a theoretical and methodological framework with which to analyse the role of schooling in intergenerational, gendered social mobility in low and middle-income countries. My work takes into account the politics of knowledge creation and operationalises post-colonial, sociological and political perspectives.

My research and teaching involve reconciling interdisciplinary tensions between economics, sociology and international development, between academic inquiry, policy formulations, and implementation on the ground, and between diverse methodological frameworks.

Previous Education

University of Cambridge 2012
University of Bath 2006
Quaid-i-Azam University 2002

Links

https://researchportal.bath.ac.uk/en/persons/arif-naveed
https://www.linkedin.com/in/arif-naveed-137650b

Latest News

Gut bacteria links to immune responses in the brain

Bugs in the gut may hold the key to protective immune measures in the brain which could have implications for diseases such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis, according to a new study led by Gates Cambridge Scholar Zachary Fitzpatrick. A paper based on his PhD research has recently been published in Nature and it highlights […]

Exploring the social barriers to take-up of green technology

How can rural communities be encouraged to take up green energy solutions? A new study co-authored by Gates Cambridge Scholar Ramit Debnath investigates the social barriers to uptake of household appliances fuelled by green energy. Based on research on more than 14.5K households in rural communities in Rwanda, the study, published in Renewable Energy, found […]

A new technique to decode the way the nervous system works

How do the billions of neurons in the human brain work together to give rise to thought or certain types of behaviour? A new study led by Gates Cambridge Alumnus Eviatar Yemini [2007] outlines a colouring technique, known as NeuroPAL (a Neuronal Polychromatic Atlas of Landmarks), which makes it possible – at least in experiments […]

An innovative approach to plant protection

Shauna-Lee Chai is passionate about working on wicked problems, about using her entrepreneurial skills to improve the lives of others and about seeing the big picture, something she says her experience as a Gates Cambridge Scholar contributed to. Her expertise is in invasive plant species and for three years she was Board Director of the […]