Performing on the streets: Infrastructures of subaltern resistance in Pakistan

Nishat Awan

November 20th at 7:55pm

This article explores infrastructures of subaltern resistance in Pakistan through a focus on spatial and performative modes and across a number of historical and contemporary examples. I start with the figure of the puppet, tracing it historically as an example of how culturally specific modes of dissent have evolved from a colonial to a postcolonial context, and further into a neoliberal space. I then analyse the practice of ‘wall chalking’, which could be considered a local form of graffiti that also embodies debates over religious and ethnic identity through the contested status of script in the country. In narrating these examples, my aim is to show how a specific form of resistance has developed in the country through the displacement of the dissenting subject. Here I conceptualise resistance as a Foucauldian counter-conduct that transforms space through a creative and embodied use of tactics. It is a form of subaltern resistance that emerges in relation to non-humans and everyday rituals and has developed in subtler (and more resistant) forms, through ways of enacting that thrive within and through the vulnerability of the subject.

Image credit: Laajverd Visiting School