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Hamzić, Vanja (2015) The Dera Paradigm: Homecoming of the Gendered Other. In: Re-imagining Anthropological and Sociological Boundaries, International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) Inter-Congress, July 2015, Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand. (Unpublished)

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This paper engages with discursive and material spaces of dwelling of the South Asian gender-variant subjectivity, known as khwajasara, in the inner city slums of Lahore, Pakistan’s ancient cultural and urban centre. It examines a number of social properties that designate such spaces firmly outside the ‘official’ law-governed structures of ‘home’, including: (1) specific forms of domestic labour, such as home-based sex work, anchored in a wide range of informal economies; (2) specific forms of sociality, such as master-disciple (guru-chela) and mother-daughter (ma’an-dhi) relations amongst khwajasara, which stem from an alternative kinship system of this subjectivity; (3) specific forms of communal living, in which a khwajasara household (dera), amidst a busy lower-class neighbourhood, simultaneously and harmoniously dubs, at the very least, as a family house, brothel, dance studio, ritual sanctuary, beauty saloon, kindergarten and bank-like depository of community cash and other worthy possessions. Thus, the ‘homeliness’ of a dera is negotiated through and depends on a number of complex domestic and non-domestic relations, producing, in turn, a wide array of affective and effective ties that challenge the dominant Pakistani narratives of belonging and habitation. Conversely, the khwajasara homes also provide a model of social occupancy that signals a continuous spatial and temporal alienation from the larger societal power structures, such as ‘the nuclear family’ and ‘the state’. This paper argues that the dynamics of concomitant temporalities and spatiality's within and without the khwajasara dwelling system reveal a number of productive anxieties about their – or, indeed, everyone’s – classed, urbanised, economised and gendered home-life.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Items (Paper)
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Law
Regional Centres and Institutes > Centre for the Study of Pakistan
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Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2015 14:02

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