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In the shadow of the New Silk Road: Transnational linkages, local anxieties and the limitations of petty capital in a China-Pakistan border market

Tue, Nov 1, 3:15 am
Student Building 140
DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY COLLOQUIUM What: Geography’s Colloquium When: Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Talk starts promptly at 4:00 p.m. Refreshments will be provided at 3:15 p.m. in Student Bldg. 018. Where: Student Bldg. 140 Title: “In the shadow of the New Silk Road: Transnational linkages, local anxieties and the limitations of petty capital in a China-Pakistan border market” Who: Dr. Hasan Karrar, Associate Professor of History, Lahore University of Management Sciences Abstract: The building of the Karakoram Highway (1966-1978), and its subsequent opening to commercial traffic with China in the mid-1980s spurred commerce along the road. Greater commercial integration with the rest of Pakistan, coupled with light manufactured goods trickling from Chinese border markets – shuttled by petty traders from both countries – resulted in the proliferation of bazaars in the Karakoram high mountain region. The last such bazaar before the Karakoram Highway enters China is the Afiyatabad “commercial area” – that also serves as the immigration and customs checkpoint – two kilometers beyond Sost, a traditional year-round settlement in Upper Hunza. Afiyatabad remained a small, non-descript bazaar until the recent China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was unveiled to channel extensive Chinese infrastructure investments across the country. Anticipation of Chinese investments precipitated local capital investments in Afiyatabad – now imagined as Pakistan’s gateway to China – and encouraged labor migration into the region. This paper traces the history of the Afiyatabad commercial area. I describe recent changes in the bazaar, highlighting the incongruity between local capital investments and state-led mega-projects, which bypass the local, leading to anxiety and alienation in the bazaar. Bio: Dr. Karrar is an associate professor of History specializing in modern Chinese and Central Asian history and political economy. His current research is focused on informal connections across the greater Central Asian region (inclusive of western China and northern Pakistan) since the 1980s. More broadly, his work engages with globalization and transnationalism in Eurasia, transformations in Central Asian borderlands, foreign relations, twentieth century international history, and war and society. His earlier research on the development of Sino-Central Asian relations appeared as The New Silk Road Diplomacy: China’s Central Asian Foreign Policy Since the Cold War (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2009). At LUMS he has been building teaching on East Asian and Central Asian history and politics, the Cold War, world history, and ecology. Please join us and see: http://www.indiana.edu/~geog/colloquium.shtml for a complete schedule.