Remotely Colonial: History and Politics in Balochistan

ISBN : 9780199068654

Nina Swidler
250 Pages
144 x 223 mm
Pub date
Sep 2014
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Remotely Colonial is a monograph that examines tribalism and nationalism as historical processes in Kalat, which is today incorporated in the Balochistan Province of Pakistan. Kalat was 'remotely colonial' in two ways. It was located on the far reaches of the Indian Empire, and British interests were geostrategic rather than economic. The British designated Kalat a native state, but proceeded to marginalize the ruler in favour of sardars (chiefs) and tribal governance through jirga (tribal court) deliberations. This led to tensions between local officials dealing with events on the ground and the central government, which was determined that the facade of Kalat State be maintained. Colonial subject status - tribal, client or British Protected Subject - determined rights and obligations. The fragmentation of subjecthood produced a situation in which Kalat State became a polity with situationally defined subjects. Although Kalat State ceased to exist in 1955, its colonial structures persist today. Sardars and jirgas have become signifiers of entrenched tradition, a tribal 'other' of the national state. This is a convenient image for the Pakistani government, enabling blame for present conditions to be pinned on the tribal sector, deflecting attention away from the state's failure to provide basic services.


Note on Spellings and Transliterations
1. Introduction
2. Kalat Before the British
3. The Birth of the Balochistan Agency
4. The Politics of Space
5. The Politics of Culture
6. The Space of Politics
7. The Averted Gaze
8. Seeking the Imaginary Balance
9. The Politics of Change
10. The Afterlife of Paramountcy
Coda: Gwadar

About the author: 

Nina Swidler holds a Ph.D in anthropology from Columbia University, New York. She joined the Fordham University faculty in 1968, where she is presently Associate Professor Emerita. Dr. Swidler's work was supported by grants from The National Institute of Mental Health, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and Fordham University. She is the author of articles about tribal politics in colonial and post-colonial contexts. A graduate student when she first went to Balochistan in 1963, she observed a prominent sardar conducting court proceedings on his lawn, an experience which led to her dissertation on tribal organization and leadership. Concern about the limitations of the tribal frame led to an interest in the Kalat Khanate and ultimately to this monograph.

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