'Contemporary Sufism in Pakistan: Theorizing gender through practice'

Thursday 27 Sep 2018, 13:00 - 14:00
Spoken Language
Room 4.01
International Institute of Social Studies
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Research in Progress Seminar, Saad Ali Khan will question the notion of 'gender equity' and 'gender egalitarianism' with respect to Sufism in Pakistan, which does not (otherwise) question the power relations between man and woman assumed or given and enshrined within practice of Sufism.

The analysis does not draw on theological undertones but relies rather on the socially lived reality and context of understanding 'gender' and the hierarchy as it is practiced, mediated and legitimized in the daily life of people through Sufism.

The study problematizes the concept of 'gender' in practice of Sufism in Pakistan through the works of Joan W Scott. Khan argues that claims of gender egalitarianism or gender equality within Sufism (especially at the discursive level) is not actually practiced. Rather, Sufism in practice reconstitutes or reestablishes gendered order or hierarchy within society.

Khan proposes that these assumed claims and notions of gender egalitarianism, when contested or problematized, reveal the hidden gendered face of Sufism in Pakistan. Employing Joan W Scott’s theorization of gender as a power relation between man and woman that operates within and across four interrelated social levels (institutions/organizations, ideology/doctrine, symbolic meaning, and  subjective identity) to critically analyze shrines, orders and master-disciple relationship, he demonstrates how Sufism in practice is gendered.

About the speaker

Saad Ali Khan is currently a lecturer at the Centre of Excellence in Gender Studies at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, and a PhD scholar at the National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University.

Saad has been associated with the Centre for the last four years, where he has taught courses including Gender and Mysticism, Gender and International Politics, and The Social Construction of Gender, among others. In his PhD research, he analyses gender dynamics within the Sufi culture of Pakistan with a special focus on contemporary Sufi women and their role in Sufi culture.

He is currently based at the International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague

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