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State and Subject Formation in South Asia
The extraordinarily visible and ubiquitous presence of the state in most of South Asia points to its overarching power. The state’s unbridled reach also suggests its importance as a locus for societal hopes, frustrations, and aspirations. However, scholarship on Pakistan (and to a lesser degree, South Asia more broadly), has offered few systematic attempts to address the complexity of these state-society relations. This edited volume is an attempt in this direction. A defining feature of this volume is its focus on the state and society through a critical engagement with the theoretical openings offered by Michel Foucault. Prime among these lenses is the replacement of the concept of citizens with subjects, i.e. individuals whose modes of thinking and acting are shaped and governed by the intrusive arms of the state-apparatus. The contribution of the book is not simply theoretical; each chapter is deeply grounded in a South Asian context, with a sizable majority of chapters focusing specifically on Pakistan. The captivating case studies that lie at the heart of each chapter allow us to step into those domains of state-society relations—everyday life, discourses, rituals, etc.—that have been largely ignored in other studies on the state in Pakistan.
Amen Jaffer is Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). His research focuses on the sociality of urban life in Pakistan by examining the interconnections between social, religious, and cultural dimensions of Sufi shrines, the politics around infrastructure in mohallas, and the social economy of recycling waste in Lahore. He is currently preparing a manuscript for publication that is provisionally titled, Making Islam Real: Everyday Life in Pakistan's Urban Sufi Shrines. He was invited as a Visiting Scholar to École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in 2021 and was a Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Study's (Princeton) Summer Programme in the Social Science in 2018–2019.
Mashal Saif is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Clemson University, US. Dr Saif’s research interests include Islam in contemporary South Asia; ulema and madrasas; the trans-temporal dynamics between medieval and modern Islamic discourses; contemporary Muslim political theology; and the anthropology of the state. Her first monograph, The ‘Ulama in Contemporary Pakistan: Contesting and Cultivating an Islamic Republic, was published with Cambridge University Press in 2020. She has also published an array of articles and book chapters. In 2021 she was awarded a Senior Fellowship by the American Institute of Pakistan Studies. She is currently working on her second monograph, tentatively titled, Traditional Islam and Modernity in Pakistan: An Intimate Account.