CFP: The Dynamics of Change in Conflict Societies: Pakhtun Region in Perspective

Annual Conference of the Department of Political Science, University of Peshawar, November 14 – 15, 2011

Theme of the conference: The Dynamics of Change in Conflict Societies: Pakhtun Region in Perspective

The Pakhtun represent the worlds’ largest tribal group. They inhabit the mountainous region that straddle the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, presumed to be the safe haven for the Taliban and Al Qaida. Although, the ecological variation has influenced Pakhtuns, their social and cultural organization has distinct character; which also demonstrates some similarity across this ecological variation. Economic backwardness, poor literacy and low standard of living characterize the Pakhtun society.

The transnational security issues emerging out of the ‘ungoverned spaces’ in failed and failing states have brought out the significance of extending state control over the tribal society of Pakhtuns, who take immense pride in their autonomy. Conflict is also a pervasive feature of Pakhtun society; centralized polities have faced enormous problems in extending authority into Pakhtun region since known history. The current conflict encompassing the Pakhtun region and society is seen by some in the context of Pakhtun cultures’ incompatibility with forces of modernization and globalization, by others in terms of penetration of political Islam and foreign religious ideology. Still others eye it as an expression of Pakhtun national sentiment against foreign intervention in Afghanistan, while some as a consequence of poverty, educational backwardness and preponderance of grey and black market economies.

The stagnancy, that is usually, portrayed by media reports and stereotypical scholarly analysis manifest apathy towards the otherwise vibrant and dynamic Pakhtun society. The dynamism and flux in Pakhtun society is a function of historical processes, economic change and political reforms. Therefore, there is a need to focus on these processes of change and their consequences which are presumed to be comprehensive in their scope. Nevertheless, the processes of change, the forms it takes and the product thereof, need thorough investigation. It is such an understanding that inspires the broader theme of the conference.

The conference aims at generating a debate on some of the theoretical discussions about the role of structures and agency, the constructed aspect of social phenomena, institutional and elitist conceptual approaches, discursive processes, development discourses, etc. These theoretical perspectives which are widely debated in the disciplines of Social Sciences will help provide broader analytical framework for various studies on Pakhtuns. Moreover, the empirical evidence from the Pakhtun region in support of various theoretical positions would help comprehend Pakhtun society.

The Department of Political Science, University of Peshawar, in collaboration with Hanns Seidel Foundation (Islamabad), is organizing an Annual International Conference in November (14-15) 2011. This conference will give valuable insights into understanding the Pakhtun society, culture and politics. Anticipating more comprehensive analysis from participants the conference will focus on the dynamics of Pakhtun existence, political and social organization.  The conference will cover the following broader areas:

  1. Identity maintenance and reconstruction, transformation in cultural features, ethnic and national sense of belonging;
  2. Transformation in economic structures and relations, processes of globalization and integration into the state economy, poverty and its dynamics;
  3. Change in power relations, formal and informal institutional arrangements, multilevel governance, processes of national integration and changes in electoral processes;
  4. Religion as a belief system (faith) and lived experience, religious discourses, religious conservatism and militancy, discourses of resistance, religious change;
  5. Gender and culture, masculinity and Pakhtun society, religious conservatism and gender:

The deadline for abstracts is July 31, 2011. After professional reviewing of the abstracts, selected participants will be informed by August 31, 2011. Complete papers are required by October 15, 2011. Travel and accommodation expenses of invited speakers of the conference will be covered and local hospitality will be provided. Papers presented in the conference will be considered for publication in an edited book.

Please send your abstracts (not more than 300 words) to Dr. Ayub Jan at

Conference Organizer:                                           Conference Secretary

Prof. Dr. Taj Moharram Khan                                                Dr. M. Ayub Jan

Department of Political Science,                                 Department of Political Science,

University of Peshawar- Peshawar- PAKISTAN


Telephone: 92-91-9216751


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