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2016 University of Michigan Pakistan Conference: Infrastructure and its Discontents in Pakistan

The 6th annual Pakistan Conference, organized by the Organization of Pakistani Students and the Center for South Asian Studies, was held on April 8, 2016. The panelists, academics and artists from both Pakistan and the United States, focused on the theme of infrastructure and development. From the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to the jungle of flyovers and underpasses in Lahore, the development of infrastructure in Pakistan has rapidly transformed the country’s landscape. This process has been accompanied by both critique and approval within Pakistani society. They addressed issues around both the desire for and rejection of infrastructure. Through a conversation between artists and academics, they engaged infrastructural development not as predetermined or inevitable, but as a process entangled with social and political implications. They addressed the questions: what is the relationship between infrastructure and development? What kinds of politics does infrastructure enable or obstruct?  By exploring the particularities of infrastructural production and experience in Pakistan, the conference participants including both panelists and audience members grappled with the complex and multi-faceted aspects of infrastructure in Pakistan today. Presenters from outside the University of Michigan attending were the following: Professor Nausheen Anwar ( Institute of Business Administration in Karachi, Pakistan); Majed Akhter (Department of Geography, Indiana University); Hafeez Jamali (School of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, Habib University, Karachi); David Gilmartin (North Carolina State University); Shahana Rajani and Zahra Malkani, artists of the Tentative Collective based in Pakistan.

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