- At home in Karachi: quasi-domesticity as way to know the city
- Critique of Anthropology
- Volume | Issue number
- 29 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Cities are difficult to control. The moral panic that is part of much social scientific and military research on cities for more than a century is still manifest today. In Pentagon sources Karachi is mentioned as one of those `feral, failed cities' that are expected to become the sites of future conflicts that will take the form of asymmetric combat within non-nodal, non-hierarchical urban terrains. But the strategies proposed by the US army have already been put into practice by the Pakistani military for several decades. This article looks at what these military measures do to people living in the city. It does so by focusing on the concept of `home' or `quasi-domesticity', and distinguishes three phases in patterns of how Karachiites felt at home in their city: the postcolonial period, when it was still possible to feel `at home' in the city as a whole; the time of mass migration, when `home' retreated into bastis and neighbourhoods; and the more recent times of ethnic and religious conflict, when `home' became a deterrorialized, mobile and ethnicized form of local cosmopolitanism.
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