Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, Emory University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2015
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Emory University
Dead Dreams and Boys with Pistols: Rethinking Urban Violence in Lyari Town, Pakistan

Within the space of a decade, the township of Lyari transformed from a peaceful neighborhood known to be a bastion of working-class solidarity to an urban war-zone marked by violence between street gangs organized along ethnic lines. This study seeks to answer the question why. Hitherto, anthropological inquiry has either taken an 'objectivist' route that explains urban violence as a by-product of 'larger forces'; or a 'subjectivist' approach that highlights the lived experience of precarity. However, between the analytical binaries of global/local and space/place are people who constantly innovate and reorganize their lives in response to circumstances that are not of their own making. This research project explores a 'third way' between objectivist and subjectivist approaches. It tests the hypothesis that urban violence can be explained through a close study of the evolution of social organization. It further explores the merits of the claim that evolving social forms mediate between local actors and global forces and constitute the optimal analytic scale through which to understand the recurrent and ubiquitous phenomenon of urban violence in our times.