Call for Papers, The Dynamics of Change in the Pakistan-Afghanistan Region: Politics on Borderland

Over the past couple of centuries the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland has gained increased level of international attention. Much of this attention, in both policy and scholarship, was drawn to the borderland’s geo-strategic significance and how it proved to be a defining part of the so-called Great Wars. This led to a unique albeit at times narrow understanding of the borderland often resulting in either diminutive or exaggerated narratives. Thus in the last three conferences, which we organized, we noticed how the dominant narratives, discourses, and theories of the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland are quite wanting in critically addressing the challenge of making the borderland legible.


Interestingly when it comes to the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland war becomes one of the key topics of debate, speculation and conceptualizing. The present generation of people on this borderland, it can be said without exaggeration, was born in a state of war, and war tends to color every aspect of its life. Accordingly, the prolonged state of war presents considerable problems and puzzles to address. What is encouraging however in this respect is that there is a growing literature concerning several of these problems. But again much of this literature is focused on the tactical, (geo-) strategic, and policy dimensions. On the other hand, there are a number of crucial areas that remain neglected, like normative and aesthetic aspects, crimes against humanity, states’ juridical derogations, gender rights violations, expression and exhibition of local voices in amateur form of art, the disrupted rhythms of life, and so forth.


While the War on Terror has been the single most important concern of both global and local actors on the borderland, this very concern has, however, eclipsed the probe, understanding, and expression of other multifarious local problems and how those connect with global issues, like resource exploitation and environmental degradation, transnational mobility and crime, human rights violations, refugees and migration, minorities, ethnicity, and racism, financial meltdowns, disease, and climate change. We think that the global-local intersections of these challenges call for a more urgent study. We also think that encouraging the hitherto neglected critical and interdisciplinary approaches in our previous conferences would be quite an addition and illumination. The challenge before us is to chart a course towards a truly inclusive debate, recognizing the multiple and diverse issues of the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland and suggest critical and creative ways to address them. What we expect to seek in this conference is how the state of war impels us to recognize the common ground, the abundance of resources, diversity of peoples, and accordingly make strides to resolve our conflicts.


Against this backdrop, the theme of the 2015 Annual Conference explores the following major questions:

  • Given the hitherto marginality of the local voices and traditions, what are the ways and sources of knowledge that can help to make their lives more legible, meaningful, and inclusive?
  • What makes Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland a borderland? In what ways do the recent scholarship on borderlands contribute to problematizing as well as understanding the various dynamics of Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland?
  • What are the political and economic challenges to the state building in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, especially in the backdrop of recent developments in the region?
  • How do the key global challenges of our time affect the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland and vice versa?

A further division of the areas of interest is following:

  • War, Genre, and Critique • Religion, Difference, and Violence
  • Law, Human Rights and Gender Rights
  • Democratic Governance, Public Space, and Resistance
  • Economic Transformation and Development?
  • Migration, Refugees, and Internally Displaced Persons
  • Borders and Transnational mobility
  • Resource Exploitation, Environmental Degradation, and Climate Change
  • Ethnicity and Ethno-Nationalism
  • Art, Sports, and Politics of Aesthetics


We request abstracts of not more than 300 words. The deadline for submission of abstracts is March 30, 2015. The committee will announce decisions by April 10, 2015. Detailed papers must be turned in to the coordinator or secretary at least 10 days before the conference starts. A limited number of travel grants are also available. All presenters and participants will be provided free local transport, accommodation and meals. For more information feel free to contact us.


Department of Political Science, University of Peshawar.

Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF), Islamabad.


Bara Gali Summer Campus, University of Peshawar, K-P, Pakistan.


Syed Sami Raza

Conference Coordinator

Shahida Aman

Conference Secretary

Rahman Ullah

Conference (Student) Secretary

HSF Islamabad