In my thesis project, I provide an analysis of the way the image and the perception of the state is formed in the context of everyday social and political life in rural Pakistan. I demonstrate how people in a rural locality understand the Pakistani state and its laws and how these understandings shape the way the people carry out everyday engagement with the state authorities. This research undertaking is guided by three principal questions: 1) what is the common conception of Pakistani state at the local level; 2) how do people interact and experience the state institutions at the micro level; 3) what role do different non-state actors who act as ‘intermediaries’ between their fellow villagers and the wider political world play in shaping local embodiment of the state and people’s experiences with it? My fieldwork in a village in Pakistani Punjab, which was reduced to six months from one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reveals that the images and perceptions of the Pakistani state are split between ‘sublime’ and ‘profane’ dimensions. On the one hand, the people imagine the state as a sublime entity that exists in far-off places. The state is somewhere else, geographically detached from their locality. It can only be seen on television sets, in major urban centers of the country, and it is a rich institute with enormous financial resources. On the other hand, the people also talk about the state as a profane entity associated with corruption, hierarchy, fraud, and lies. The state is where culture of corruption and mistreatment is deeply pervasive. Fearing of difficulties and complications, the state is something with which they want to have minimum interaction. They consider the state offices are full of lazy and biased employees who provide no service without sifarish (recommendation), taaluq wasta (relationship), or rishwat (bribery). I argue that the people at the local level attach sublime qualities to the national and provincial realm of the Pakistani state, while its local realm with which the people engage on everyday basis is seen as profane. My ethnographic material also illustrates that since everyday state administration is perceived to be riddled with corrupt practices and abuse of authority, this condition creates favorable atmosphere in rural Pakistan for different actors of patronage system to operate – where different political intermediaries assume leading role in variety of political spaces and social relations, acting as a conduit between the state and residents, as well as at times performing certain roles at the local level as they are free from the state's control or at other times acting as helping hand of the state.

EVERYDAY IMAGES AND PRACTICES OF THE STATE IN RURAL PAKISTAN / M. Munir ; tutor: L. Ciabarri ; coordinator : A. Pinotti. - : . Università degli Studi di Milano, 2021 Dec 10. ((33. ciclo, Anno Accademico 2020.

EVERYDAY IMAGES AND PRACTICES OF THE STATE IN RURAL PAKISTAN

M. Munir
2021

Abstract

In my thesis project, I provide an analysis of the way the image and the perception of the state is formed in the context of everyday social and political life in rural Pakistan. I demonstrate how people in a rural locality understand the Pakistani state and its laws and how these understandings shape the way the people carry out everyday engagement with the state authorities. This research undertaking is guided by three principal questions: 1) what is the common conception of Pakistani state at the local level; 2) how do people interact and experience the state institutions at the micro level; 3) what role do different non-state actors who act as ‘intermediaries’ between their fellow villagers and the wider political world play in shaping local embodiment of the state and people’s experiences with it? My fieldwork in a village in Pakistani Punjab, which was reduced to six months from one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reveals that the images and perceptions of the Pakistani state are split between ‘sublime’ and ‘profane’ dimensions. On the one hand, the people imagine the state as a sublime entity that exists in far-off places. The state is somewhere else, geographically detached from their locality. It can only be seen on television sets, in major urban centers of the country, and it is a rich institute with enormous financial resources. On the other hand, the people also talk about the state as a profane entity associated with corruption, hierarchy, fraud, and lies. The state is where culture of corruption and mistreatment is deeply pervasive. Fearing of difficulties and complications, the state is something with which they want to have minimum interaction. They consider the state offices are full of lazy and biased employees who provide no service without sifarish (recommendation), taaluq wasta (relationship), or rishwat (bribery). I argue that the people at the local level attach sublime qualities to the national and provincial realm of the Pakistani state, while its local realm with which the people engage on everyday basis is seen as profane. My ethnographic material also illustrates that since everyday state administration is perceived to be riddled with corrupt practices and abuse of authority, this condition creates favorable atmosphere in rural Pakistan for different actors of patronage system to operate – where different political intermediaries assume leading role in variety of political spaces and social relations, acting as a conduit between the state and residents, as well as at times performing certain roles at the local level as they are free from the state's control or at other times acting as helping hand of the state.
CIABARRI, LUCA
Ethnographic; Everyday State; Non-State Actors; Pakistani State; Political Intermediaries; Punjab ; Rural Pakistan
Settore BIO/08 - Antropologia
Settore SPS/07 - Sociologia Generale
Settore SPS/01 - Filosofia Politica
EVERYDAY IMAGES AND PRACTICES OF THE STATE IN RURAL PAKISTAN / M. Munir ; tutor: L. Ciabarri ; coordinator : A. Pinotti. - : . Università degli Studi di Milano, 2021 Dec 10. ((33. ciclo, Anno Accademico 2020.
Doctoral Thesis
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/878019
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