Focusing on one of Karachi’s original settlements, Lyari, her paper explores the multiple ways in which women and girls in particular experience and understand this area. It documents the various tactics used by women and girls to negotiate this landscape in the course of their everyday lives, as they travel for the purposes of work, education, and for leisure. Based on extensive interviews and participant observation in several neighborhoods, the research shifts attention away from solely using violence as a lens to understand urban space—an approach that has so far dominated studies of Karachi in general and Lyari in particular—and away from seeing women mainly as victims of violence. Rather, by focusing on the multiplicity of meanings space holds for women and girls and by highlighting their own creative navigations and everyday forms of resistance, this paper draws brings new insights into discussions of gender and urban space more generally.
Dr. Nida Kirmani is Associate Professor of Sociology in the Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. She is also Faculty Director of the Saida Waheed Gender Initiative. Nida has published widely on issues related to gender, Islam, women’s movements, development and urban studies in India and Pakistan. She completed her PhD in 2007 from the University of Manchester in Sociology. Her book, Questioning ‘the Muslim Woman’: Identity and Insecurity in an Urban Indian Locality, was published in 2013 by Routledge. Her current research focuses on urban violence, gender and insecurity in the area of Lyari in Karachi.