Shafqat Hussain: Remoteness and Modernity: Transformation and Continuity in Northern Pakistan
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Shafqat Hussain’s monograph, Remoteness and Modernity, takes on an important task: the investigation of how distant places are framed as “remote” and the interrogation of how such framings reflect upon the contours of modernity. Historically grounded in scope, the book echoes the critique of colonial epistemological limits discussed by Edward Evans Pritchard. As quoted in Hussain’s monograph, Pritchard observed of the Victorian explorers: “There was everywhere a passionate endeavor to discover the origins of everything… an endeavor always to explain the nearer by the farther” (1940: 124). The play on what is near and far, on what is in focus and what is out of focus, is foundational to Hussain’s insightful monograph. A part of this effort involves taking the coherence and accuracy of past scholarship with a proverbial grain of salt. Hussain uses historical uncertainty and indeterminacy to shape a critical reflection and re-envisioning of the “remote” region of Hunza (located in...
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