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Islam, Everyday, Pakistan

My research in urban Pakistan was conducted in the late 1990s and early 2000s.  I push against both the official narrative of Pakistan as the homeland for Muslims in the subcontinent or the contrary position that it did not espouse a coherent Islamic identity.  Instead I deploy an archaeological approach to track a long enduring yet simultaneously emergent orientation within Pakistan to be Muslims of the highest caliber without a clear pathway or endpoint.  Filaments of this orientation are to be found in the philosopher-poet Iqbal's dialogue with Bergson and Nietzsche, Pakistan's constitution making exercises, present day struggles over the construction of mosques, and everyday negotiations with non-human forms of life, ranging from jinns to internalized mullahs.  It produces a plethora of experiments on Muslim becoming, which are shot through with utopian possibilities as well as deep disappointment with oneself and skepticism towards the strivings of others.  I explore what happens to disappointment and skepticism when they find expression within statist projects of determining who is a Muslim and policing the boundaries of Muslimness, with deleterious ramifications for intersubjective relations and sociality.   My intent was to open up the frozen quality of historical narratives on Pakistan to suggest how Pakistani Muslims continue to engage their tradition, past and present, to retain the possibility of spiritual striving along with its accompanying shadows.  I also explore how the imputed failures of statehood, nationhood and sovereignty, manifesting in a feeling of persistent crisis, is lived and transfigured within the everyday.  See my edited volume Beyond Crisis: Reevaluating Pakistan and monograph Muslim Becoming: Aspiration and Skepticism in Pakistan.

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