Dissent, Public Space and Politics of Citizenship in Pakistan

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Dissent, Public Space and Politics of Citizenship in Pakistan
Stream: Sociology
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Shermeen Bano, University of Management and Technology, Pakistan (organizer, chair, presenter, discussant)
Rahla Rahat, University of Punjab, Pakistan (presenter)
Inam ul Haq, University of Management and Technology, Pakistan (presenter)
Ayra Indrias Patras, University of Punjab, Pakistan (presenter)
Maha Kamal, Information Technology University, Pakistan (presenter)
Uswah Firdous, Information Technology University, Pakistan (presenter)


The costs for dissent in Pakistan are high. The active, and increasingly anticipatory, suppression of opposition in Pakistan has momentous consequences for the freedoms of citizens in times of rising socio-economic disparities and human right violations. The space for free speech is diminishing evident from increasing penalization of journalists, student activists and minorities for state censure and participation in certain types of political activities. However, both marginal spaces and individuals in Pakistan have a dynamic history of resistance to authoritarian structures of oppression. This panel explores the myriad ways in which contextual realities are shaping the cultural politics of citizen dissent on the margins of public spaces in Pakistan. At the core of this panel lies the assumption that the South Asian cities, like Lahore, are confronting social transformations through reconfiguration of historic cultural alliances across urban margins and consequently engendering new forms of crisis, developments, inequality, and resistance. Through this approach the panel alerts us to the evolving tools and strategies of subversion that challenge authoritarian regimes through appropriation of ‘humor’, ‘mobility’, ‘citizen categories’, and ‘Public policy analysis’ in a radical politics of visibility. In addition, it challenges the notion that everyday resistance strategies lack the potential for altering enduring patterns of power relations. The contingent and heterogenic nature of subversive strategies of women protesters of Aurat March, gender variant Khawaja sira persons, low skilled labor and policy analysts in Lahore are important examples of emerging visibility of marginalized citizens and their acknowledgement in the wider citizen-state interactions in Pakistan.