GEXcel Gender Talks Series (i samarbete med Sociologi)
Rabbia Aslam, lecturer in Gender Studies, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan
"Navigating the labyrinth: Experiential Realities of Exploring Gender studies as an Academic Field in Pakistan"
My research focuses on gender studies as an academic discipline in Pakistan: issues, challenges, and prospects. Moreover, it explores the growth of the discipline in contemporary Pakistan. The issues include administrative, financial, and evolution challenges of gender studies in patriarchal societies like Pakistan. On the other hand, challenges are more linked to the state of the discipline, its scope, the nexus between theory and activism, and what sort of knowledge is being produced by the gender studies academics among five leading public sector universities in major metropolitan cities (Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Baluchistan and Peshawar) of Pakistan. Further, it also unpacks the perceptions about feminism, feminist knowledge production, and the role of gender studies as an academic field in Pakistani society.
On the other hand, the prospects involve the data around the future and multidisciplinary nature of gender studies, there are diverse thoughts about autonomy and integration debate in gender studies. I would be happy to share ideas with students and faculty about its growth, and contemporary challenges, and here is one of the biggest challenges is that the impetus (funding) to establish and grow gender studies comes from international pressure from aid agencies.
Still, the implementation of these programs ends up at least partially in the hands of conservative (even anti-feminist) administration at the universities who perceive the imposition of gender studies as antithetical to Pakistani culture, perhaps a threat to religious mores, and even Western colonialist in intent and effect. It helps us to see how it survived within mainstream social sciences because in our context it is still considered an ideology, not a purely scientific discipline. Within universities, educated intellectuals thought that there is no need to establish such discipline. Although, Pakistan has ranked 153rd out of 156th in the global gender gap index (2021) by World economic forum yet, there is a less demand for gender studies as teaching and research program in universities.
Rabbia Aslam is currently working as a lecturer Centre of Excellence in Gender Studies at the Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan, with which she has been associated for more than ten years. Currently, she is a visiting researcher at the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) Hague, the Netherlands. With an academic background in sociology and gender, her research and teaching areas include violence sociology of knowledge production, sociology of gender, bifurcation in the education system, and post- and decolonial thinking in Pakistan.