Plenary Session: Transforming Relations of Iniquity

Day 2, Plenary Session 2A: 9:30am – 10:30am

Location: Storey Hall (Building 16) – Main Auditorium, Level 5, Room 1

Chair: Associate Professor Chris Hudson (RMIT University)


Anita M Weiss Anita M. Weiss

  • Surviving in Pakistan’s Cities: A Complex Web of Challenges and Alternatives
  • Abstract: While there are many formidable structural problems confronting urban Pakistan, it is the challenge of living in the shadow of the nearly daily bomb blasts and suicide attacks that poses the greatest challenge to Pakistan’s future. Pakistan’s cities at this time are in crisis, not only beset by infrastructural problems (lack of electricity, clean water, waste disposal, and aging buildings) and limited employment and economic growth options, but especially by the violence that is ripping the nation apart. Violence, while antagonized by infrastructural problems and limited jobs, emerges mostly from identity politics and promotes further tension and contestation among ethnic, social, religious, and economic communities. Indeed, the unrelenting violence in Pakistan often emerges from narrow views of community, a divisive cleavage that ostensibly pits the poor, the disempowered, those who cannot afford a government education and who know that receiving one won’t alleviate their poverty and disenfranchisement, with one another. We saw this manifest remarkably in the recent May 11, 2013 elections.After reviewing the complex web of challenges facing Pakistan’s cities today, we then turn to alternatives that bode well for positive social change in its cities, as it is here where people have made breaks from the past (especially from rural-based pasts), and the impact of growing numbers of educated women engaging with the economy, polity and society promises to be formidable for Pakistan’s future.
  • About Professor Weiss: Anita M. Weiss received her doctorate in sociology from UC Berkeley and is now professor and head of the department of International Studies at the University of Oregon. She has published extensively on social development, gender issues and political Islam in Pakistan. Recent publications include Development Challenges confronting Pakistan (co-editor with Saba Gul Khattak, Kumarian Press, 2013), Pathways to Power: the Domestic Politics of South Asia (co-editor with Arjun Guneratne, Rowman & Littlefield 2013), “Crisis and Reconciliation in Swat through the Eyes of Women” (in Magnus Marsden & Ben Hopkins (eds.) Beyond Swat: History, Society and Economy along the Afghanistan-Pakistan Frontier Hurst & Co., Columbia University Press, 2012), “Moving Forward with the Legal Empowerment of Women in Pakistan” (US Institute for Peace Special Report 305, May 2012); and “Population Growth, Urbanization and Female Literacy” (in Stephen P. Cohen and others The Future of Pakistan Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2011, pp. 236-248). Her current research project, Interpreting Islam, Modernity and Women’s Rights in Pakistan, is analyzing how distinct constituencies in Pakistan, including the state, are grappling with articulating their views on Islam, modernity and women’s rights. Professor Weiss is a member of the editorial boards of Citizenship Studies and Globalizations, is on the editorial advisory board of Kumarian Press, is a member of the Research Advisory Board of the Pakistan National Commission on the Status of Women, and is the vice president of the American Institute of Pakistan Studies (AIPS).
Jeanne W Simon

Jeanne W. Simon

  • Rethinking Globalization from Indigenous Perspectives
  • Abstract: Since the first Europeans arrived in the Americas, indigenous peoples have sought to maintain their ways of life and culture despite the many attempts to transform or destroy them. For some, indigenous resistance is seen as the principal obstacle to progress, while others see indigenous culture as the innovative answer to the problems generated by globalization. 
  • Drawing principally on the experiences of indigenous peoples in Latin America, we analyse their responses to the arrival of Europeans, the creation of the Nation-State, capitalist production, “development” programs and environmental destruction. We argue that dominant ideas of development and progress have created and maintained structures of marginalization and cultural transformation, negatively impacting indigenous peoples. We conclude with a proposal of how indigenous ideas allow us to rethink our understanding of human life on the planet.
  • Co-author: Claudio González-Parra (Universidad de Concepción, Chile) 
  • About Professor Simon: Jeanne W. Simon is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Masters Program in Politics and Government at the University of Concepción in Chile. Originally from the United States, she has lived in Chile for nearly 20 years. Her interdisciplinary research analyzes the logic of contemporary global and national development processes in order to identify development strategies for local and indigenous communities in a global economy. Most recently, her research analyzes the dynamics of intercultural relations between the post-neoliberal Chilean State and the Mapuche people.