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Steppin’ in it: postcoloniality in northern Pakistan

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This paper examines the transcultural relations between researchers and research subjects in a postcolonial research setting. I draw from my experience doing dissertation research in northern Pakistan to discuss how my research subjects’ effectively constructed me as a sahib, or what I saw as a colonial subject position. I examine the ways that my research subjects and I co-constructed, although unequally, my position and location as a researcher. The asymmetries of power relations in research are exacerbated by postcolonial relations in this contact zone. The contribution of those I researched is significant towards understanding our locations as postcolonial subjects in this research setting, and the location from which I produced the research. While it was difficult to do research as anyone other than a sahib during my research, the stories I tell and metaphors I employ in this paper attempt to destabilize my location as a colonial sahib, an authority. The scatological references that run throughout this paper are an attempt to write against the inherently colonial epistemologies that underpin geographic research more generally.

Keywords: Pakistan; feminist research; postcolonial ethnography; transculturation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Waikato, Department of Geography, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand, Email:

Publication date: 2003-03-01

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