ANGLES: NAYA PAKISTAN
The guest editors are soliciting contributions for a Special Issue of Angles, an international online peer-reviewed journal published bi-annually by the SAES (Société des Anglicistes de l’Enseignement Supérieur, the professional network which unites most of the university-level English professors in France). It is indexed by MLA, EBSCO, ERIH Plus, Scopus…
The theme for the Special Issue is “Angles on Naya/New Pakistan,” hoping to collect contributions from inside and outside Pakistan which take a critical look at contemporary Pakistan.
In Salman Rushdie’s Shame (1983) the narrator described Pakistan as a “failure of the dreaming mind […] [a] place […] just insufficiently imagined, a picture full of irreconcilable elements”, the result of a political utopia disconnected from the political and ethnic realities of South Asia and resulting in the unavoidable crisis of partition. More than 30 years later, Pakistani author Bina Shah draws a somewhat more nuanced portrayal of her country: despite the presence of apparent markers such as language and religion, “identity crisis” seems to be a common denominator throughout the political history of Pakistan, and English-speaking novelists, “amidst this chaotic backdrop”, are the “antidote to the Pakistani identity crisis”. In other words, the problematic, divisive grand political design of the beginning, which, according to Rushdie, lacked vision, has on the contrary been a boon for literary imagination. Indeed, if one looks at the recent literary production, it appears that Pakistan, although a “hard country” (Anatol Lieven) — or because it is a hard country — has gifted anglophone literature with the most challenging fiction of recent years and has helped established a specific Pakistani voice, distinct from its great Indian neighbour.
Pakistan has survived the upheavals of history — two violent partitions, military dictatorships stifling freedom of expression, the direct consequences of the “war on terror” on its civilian population — and has become a case study for a postcolonial state still living with the contradictions and rifts inherited from its colonial past, together with the tensions and fractures that have developed since independence in 1947. As the title of a recent issue of Critical Muslim suggests, Pakistan is in itself an interrogation: “Pakistan? […] like the sword of Damocles”, sums up the different dynamics connected to the creation and development of the Land of the Pure. What appears to be the very essence and foundation of Pakistan reveal on the contrary the contradictions and faults of its identity: language, religion, ethnicity and its social structure are often than the markers of an extremely divided society. Christophe Jaffrelot went as far as describing Pakistan as a “nation without nationalism,” in other words, an empty signifier.
Looking beyond “Naya Pakistan,” Imran Khan’s slogan and pledge during his successful 2018 campaign, the phrase also points at the fresh interest Pakistan has created in the academic world over the last two decades. Pakistan is a relatively new country, an acronym for the different ethnic groups residing in South Asia’s “Muslim haven” and whose difficult birth coincided with the tragic partition of the British raj. Right from its historical inception, Pakistan has produced a series of conundrums, uncertainties and contradictions which historians and writers alike have interrogated, starting with its very raison d’être: the founding father Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s assertion that, as bearers of a distinct religion in India, they were, as a consequence, South Asia’s sole custodians of a separate and potentially sovereign political identity. But this assertion could not resist the test of time. The Kashmir question and the conflicts with its Indian neighbour, the second partition of 1971, its involvement in the Soviet-Afghan war, the separatist tensions in Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, have largely put into question the myth of Pakistan’s territorial and ethnic unity. Moreover, the question of religious minorities (Christians, Ahmadis, Shias) and their marginal status in society, not to mention their occasional persecution, has also challenged the notion of religious unity.
The following questions can be used as a series of guidelines for proposals and lines of research:
“Why Pakistan?” could be the occasion for examining its history and founding ideology, how that has evolved, and what the future might bring.
“Who?” could relate to the culture and identity of present-day Pakistan, probing the notion of common citizenship.
The place of Islam as a political marker, including but not limited to Zia ul Haq’s dictatorship.
The central place played by the Army.
The new Pakistan novel in English. Recently, a whole generation of anglophone novelists have risen to the challenge of representing the complexities of Pakistani society and its place in the globalized world: their writing is both an illustration of postcolonial literature and a clean departure from its traditional problematics, as critics (Paul Jay 2010) define the new literature of Pakistan as “post” postcolonial literature. The novels of Kamila Shamsie, Mohammed Hanif and Mohsin Hamid belong to that category, embracing the transnational without totally departing from postcolonial issues. The role and place of Kamila Shamsie, Mohammed Hanif, Mohsin Hamid, Nadeem Aslam, Uzma Aslam Khan, Sorayya Khan Bina Shah, but also the ‘new’ new generation of novelists: H.M. Naqvi, Osama Siddique, Omar Shahid Hamid, Mahan Khan Philips…
The language of publication is English. Since Angles welcomes experimental research, different formats are not only accepted, but encouraged: standard written texts, multimedia presentations including music, drama, photography, poetry readings and such… All disciplines are welcome, whether from academic, literary, creative visual arts or other perspectives, dealing with history, politics, economics and other disciplines, as can be seen from the journal’s philosophical statement: https://journals.openedition.org/angles/532
All textual materials must be submitted through the dedicated submission website: https://angles.parisnanterre.fr/index.php/angles/submissions
For submission of material in non-traditional format (video, audio), please contact the guest editors for guidance.
Abstracts must be submitted by 15 March 2021. This stage is optional, but makes it possible to provide potential contributors with early feedback.
Complete contributions must be submitted by 15 June 2021.
The issue is scheduled for publication on 1st November 2021.
Please direct any queries to the guest editors for this issue: