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Palgrave Macmillan

Constructing 'Pakistan' through Knowledge Production in International Relations and Area Studies

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  • © 2020


  • Examines how Pakistan’s identity is constructed within the wider International Relations (IR) discipline
  • Analyzes the IR discourse by including 'Area Studies' and Think-tanks as part of the wider IR Community
  • Analyses production of representational identity based in on Jennifer Milliken’s methodology on productivity of discourse
  • Challenges basic assumptions on Pakistan, not the facts they know, but the ways in which they have obtained knowledge

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About this book

This book analyses the discourse on Pakistan by exploring the knowledge production processes through which the International Relations community, Asian and South Asian area study centres, and think-tanks construct Pakistan’s identity. This book does not attempt to trace how Pakistan has been historically defined, explained, or understood by the International Relations interpretive communities or to supplant these understandings with the author’s version of what Pakistan is. Instead, this study focuses on investigating how the identity of Pakistan is fixed or stabilized via practices of the interpretive communities. In other words, this book attempts to address the following questions: How is the knowledge on Pakistan produced discursively? How is this knowledge represented in the writings on Pakistan? What are the conditions under which it is possible to make authoritative claims about Pakistan?

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Table of contents (6 chapters)


“Waheed explores the production of knowledge through a forensic examination of key sites of academic and policy-related work on Pakistan. His focus is not what we know about Pakistan, but how we know what we know. Underlying this project is a restrained, clinical fury at the deeply-embedded inequalities which produce the geostrategic realities of the modern world.  In the context of the study of South Asia, Waheed’s work represents a necessary step towards challenging these realities. It is the responsibility of the institutions and individuals who constitute the contemporary academy to take up this challenge.” (Dr John Zavos, Honorary Research Fellow in Religions and Theology, School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, University of Manchester, United Kingdom)

“A remarkable deconstruction of the mainstream Western discourse on Pakistan in the field of International Relations with its ‘Orientalist’ stereotypes and ethnocentric attitudes. Due to its strategic cum politico-cultural location, Pakistan is a prime topic for such a needed investigation that should be emulated for other countries and areas.” (Gilbert Achcar, Professor of Development Studies and International Relations, SOAS, University of London, United Kingdom)

“How do countries take on identities—like ‘failed state’—in scholarly literature? Many realize that IR and Area Studies are American social sciences, seeing the world from the point of view of the powerful. But few scholars subject this knowledge/power problem to sustained inquiry. In this groundbreaking study, Ahmed Waheed shows us how ‘knowledge’ about Pakistan is produced and comes to seem like truth. His study will become a model of critique as we try to rebuild international and area studies in the wake of Western hegemony.” (Tarak Barkawi, Professor of International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom)

“This is a brilliant book on the social construction of Pakistan. It challenges conventional readings of Pakistan's present and possible futures, turning the question to the politics of how Pakistan is known, particularly in the International Relations literature.  Through discourse analysis, the power to define Pakistan—who and how—is unpacked, making space for alternative nominations of agency. An alternative present and future for Pakistan is only possible by challenging how Pakistan is defined by who gets to speak and who gains authoritative voice. Knowledge production via Area Studies and International Relations is challenged arguing that Area Studies is indeed International Relations. This is achieved by asking not "What do know about Pakistan?" but "How do we know about Pakistan?" This is an easy to read, well argued, thoroughly researched book.” (Professor Sohail Inayatullah, UNESCO Chair in Futures Studies, USIM, Malaysia and Adjunct Professor, the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia)

Authors and Affiliations

  • Centre for International Peace & Stability, National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan

    Ahmed W. Waheed

About the author

Ahmed W. Waheed is an Assistant Professor at the Center for International Peace and Stability, National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan. He is the author of The Wrong Ally: Pakistan’s State Sovereignty under US Dependence (2018).

Bibliographic Information

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