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The spatialisation of an ethno-political migrant identity: appropriation, adaptation, and contestation of Muhajir space in Karachi

Khan, SS; (2016) The spatialisation of an ethno-political migrant identity: appropriation, adaptation, and contestation of Muhajir space in Karachi. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Karachi today, is a city of migrants where both space and ethnicity are politicised and contested. The Muhajir community is the city’s largest and politically most significant migrant group. The development of community identity and their political trajectory has been extensively documented but little has been written about the spatialisation of this ethno-political identity and its impact on the city. This study endeavours to analyse the settlement patterns of the Muhajir community from their arrival in the city in 1947 to the present and how political mobilisation and subsequent access to power has shaped their post-colonial identity, their spaces and, their interactions with the city today. Due to the dearth of ethnographic data, this multi-scalar, diachronic, sociospatial investigation of Muhajir presence in Karachi uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative data sources. Master-plans, urban planning documents, historical and journalistic accounts were used to build space syntax models of the city, combining this information with open-content collaborative mapping sources, on-site interviews, questionnaires and observations to build a picture of the community’s socio-spatial behaviour and their patterns of occupation. The study shows that whilst the Muhajir community clusters and that these clusters have persisted and aided their political re-imagining which in turn has enabled them to influence urban development in the city to their strategic spatial advantage, the community is in fact not completely introverted and does engage and overlap with Karachi’s diverse array of communities through their socioeconomic interactions. And, that the term Muhajir encompasses a myriad of identities; a homogenous political block offset at the neighbourhood scale by spatial clustering determined by place-based, linguistic and religious solidarities. This socio-spatial analysis shows this to be a complex community identity that engages with the urban environment at varying degrees of definition to preserve and secure the rights of its members.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The spatialisation of an ethno-political migrant identity: appropriation, adaptation, and contestation of Muhajir space in Karachi
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Architecture
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1519629
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