There has been little theorization of popular culture in Pakistan, and discussions have mostly centered on the popular culture of India. More significantly, popular culture as a medium of political resistance and identity catharsis has rarely been debated in the Pakistani context. Papers for this panel might offer insights into how Pakistani popular culture has played a significant role in connecting individuals to the larger political issues? Furthermore, how this culture has also been contesting the prevalent narratives of state identity put forward by its orthodox elites? They might discuss whether these creative outpourings can qualify as genuine forms of nationalist self-expression, and how successfully they foster a participatory, resistant cultural production? The papers can also posit how popular culture is not a perfect panacea for these issues and how it risks being co-opted by the same political and social forces it seeks to oppose? The term popular culture is being used broadly for this panel, and that includes all of its genres like the films, comics, sitcoms, fictional writings, music, and graffiti.
The most notable of its successes are the political resistances developed by popular culture during the regimes of General Zia (1977-1988) and General Musharraf (1999-2009), in addition to the identity catharsis popular culture offered during the post 9/11 period. Thus, Pakistani popular culture has been involved in coming up with a softer image of Pakistan premised upon peace, secularism, religious moderation, and an emancipatory approach towards women. From Habib Jalib's poem, "Mein nahee Manta" to Junoon's song, "Ehtsaab", to Mohammad Hanif's satirical novel ,"A Case of Exploding Mangoes", to movies like "Haal", and political comics by Fiqa, Pakistanis have used popular culture in its myriad forms as strategy to open spaces for political resistance.
Queries and proposals for papers should be sent to the panel organizers Muhammad Shoaib Pervez and Tehmina Pirzada at email@example.com by March 27, 2014.
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