Postgraduate Islamic Studies Network at Western Sydney University held its second workshop titled Politics of Higher Education and National Identity in Pakistan on Thursday 30 August 2018 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm at the Bankstown campus.

The workshop which was convened by Dr Jan A Ali included two presenters, Junaid Amjad and Heba Al Adawy, who discussed their PhD research projects.

Junaid Amjad is a PhD candidate in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at Western Sydney University and his research topic is the Formation of Pakistan National Identity.

Heba Al Adawy is also a PhD candidate in the School of Politics and International Relations at Australian National University and researching the Politics of Policing Dissent in Pakistan Higher Education.

Heba Al Adawy.

The abstracts of their presentations are given below.

The Postgraduate Islamic Studies Network at Western Sydney University has an interdisciplinary and inter-institutional focus designed to bring postgraduate students who are conducting research on any aspect of Islam together to exchange ideas, create opportunities for collaboration, and engage in networking.

The workshops run on the last Thursday of each calendar month and are open to postgraduate students and their supervisors from any Australian universities and the general public.

Politics of Higher Education and National Identity in Pakistan

Formation of Pakistan National Identity

Junaid Amjad is a PhD student in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at Western Sydney University. In his PhD research, Junaid is exploring the formation of Pakistani national identity.

On 14 August 1947, after an extensive struggle, the people of sub-continent finally succeeded in securing independence from the British empire. The independence produced two independent states – India and Pakistan. Since the birth of Pakistan, the issue of national identity is a continuous debate. The Two-Nation Theory had inspired the idea of an independent state for Muslims of the Indian sub-continent and the Leadership of Pakistan Movement used religion first to justify the independent movement. This study is an analysis of the formation of Pakistan’s national identity and an investigation of the questions “what was Pakistan supposed to be, precisely?” “what is it now?” and “what obstacles Pakistan is facing in its attempt to form a national identity?” This study will discuss both narratives of secularist and Islamist to address the

Politics of Policing Dissent in Pakistan Higher Education

Heba Al Adawy is a first year PhD student at the School of Politics and International Relations at Australian National University. Her previous MPhil degree was in Modern Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oxford, and BA (High Honors) in History and International Relations from Mount Holyoke College, USA.

Recent transformations in global higher education have been explained on one hand by world culture theorists such as John Meyer, who emphasizes the salience of the ‘world society’ in contributing to

educational isomorphisms globally, and critics such as Roger Dale, one the other hand, who underscore the capitalist underpinnings behind the drive to compete in the global knowledge economy.

In dialoguing with Meyer and Dale, I foreground the neoliberal restructuring of higher education in my analysis of the politics of policing dissent in Pakistani higher education. Meanwhile, Meyer lends a heuristic quality to my research.

If educational institutes adapt to a common script the more connected they are to their international‘organizational carriers,’ then what might this mean for higher education institutes within what scholars have called the ‘neoliberal security state’ of Pakistan?

The higher education sector in Pakistan has evolved in the post 9/11 era in accordance with global shifts in emphases and the deepening influence of the development-security nexus within bilateral and multilateral donor agencies. This has been complemented with recent efforts to centre education (and ‘a positive national narrative’) as a counter-extremism measure within the National Internal Security Policy.

Drawing upon concepts of neoliberal higher education from the International Political Sociology of Education, of (in)securitization of nationhood from the Paris School (IPS) of critical security Studies, and the ‘social control of dissent’ from social movement literature, my research intends to examine the micro-practices of state or institutional actors as they ‘construct’ and/or ‘police’ dissent within(public sector) higher education institutes.

In particular, I intend to examine how these practices may regulate knowledge claims in terms of pedagogy, and discipline behaviour by setting out the parameters of permissible activism and criminalized dissent within the university.

Simultaneously, I intend to focus on the contestation of these practices or the ‘push-back’ from students and teachers. In so doing, I question whether the post 9/11 neoliberal ‘sanitization’ of curriculum and securitization of education by the state represent a new mode of social control and whether the changing dynamics within the higher education sector (paradoxically) also represent the possibility of emancipatory politics at the margins of a neoliberal order.