Talk: The Exceptional State of Pakistan: Catastrophe, Biopolitics and Hauntology

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The Exceptional State of Pakistan:

Catastrophe, Biopolitics and Hauntology

by
Najeeb Jan

Department of Geography
University of Colorado at Boulder


Date: Friday, April 13. 2012
Time: Coffee & Cookies 3:15 pm, Talk 3:30 pm
Place: 445 Blegen Hall
Series: Geography Coffee Hour

In 1983 Tariq Ali published his influential "Can Pakistan Survive?" a book that was immediately banned by the U.S. backed Islamizing dictator General Zia-ul-Haq. Almost three decades later we might respond "Canned -- Pakistan Survives!". Without doubt Pakistan is today a troubled space, a dense cite of multiple overlapping and intersecting catastrophes. Drawing on Heidegger's critique of Western metaphysics and Agamben's analysis of the sovereign exception, this paper discloses the abandoned form that Pakistan's survival takes. In particular it examines the devastating impact of the mullah-military complex which has today resulted in a virtual indistinction between democracy and martial law. If Pakistan is indeed a nation/notion possessed by power, a place where the violent biopolitical logics of partition continue to unfold, then perhaps prior to concrete historico-political analysis, we might entertain the thought of an exorcism; a form of ontological exegesis, or drawing out, with a view to conjuring the name of the daemon -- the separator -- that continues to haunt the region. In short, what does the exemplary crisis reveal about the contemporary nomos of the modern and the specific cartographies of power and paradigms of government in Pakistan.

Co-hosted and co-sponsored by the Institute for Global Studies

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