New PhD: Marvi’s Sisters: Hindu Belonging and the Muslim State in Pakistan

Ghazal Asif, Marvi’s Sisters: Hindu Belonging and the Muslim State in Pakistan, PhD., John Hopkins University, 2021.


This dissertation asks how Sindhi Hindu communities living in Pakistan negotiate modalities of religious minority belonging in a modern Muslim polity, in the place their ancestors have lived for generations. Weaving ethnographic, archival, and textual analyses, it examines how mutual imbrications of the state and the domestic shape political aspirations, everyday lives, and intimate relations. The dissertation focuses on the lives of Hindu women in south-eastern Sindh. Based on fifteen months of long-term fieldwork from 2016 to 2018 as well as archival research, it engages with two broad aspects of the relationship between the state, the domestic, and the religious other. The governance of religious difference and identity remains a vexing question for the Pakistani state. Early promises of citizenship vacillated between discriminatory neglect and overt regulation of religious minorities through governance techniques such as categorization and adjudication. In turn, Hindus negotiate around such practices in various creative ways, to imagine different modes of political claim-making in their ancestral homes. Meanwhile, the anxieties and pitfalls about having been rendered strangers in such a place seep into the everyday: from neighborly or intimate relations, through the constitution of domestic life, to embodied histories and practices. This leads to a burden of sustaining communal and intimate life which falls primarily on Hindu women and their capacity for kin-work and relational labor. In such a landscape, I examine how the vicissitudes of everyday life can inform alternative forms of belonging and exclusion. Tenuous intimate and neighborly relationships are sustained or exhausted in unexpected or unintuitive ways for many Hindus, as they labor in the face of limited tolerance and patterns of violence, neglect, and discrimination. Through the interpellation of governance techniques with intimate social relations, I theorize how the everyday fabric of Sindhi Hindu life has become interwoven with Pakistan’s aspirations
to modern Islamic statehood.

Cite this blog post
michelboivin (2021, July 24). New PhD: Marvi’s Sisters: Hindu Belonging and the Muslim State in Pakistan. Sindhi Studies Group. Retrieved February 27, 2024, from

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.