Issue V: Space

Aug 2013

Artist: Ayesha Malik | Old Lahore

Artist: Ayesha Malik | Old Lahore

Tahrir Square, and now Taksim square, have driven home not only the importance of public space to oppositional politics, but also that management and organization of space remains pivotal to capital and power, class and nation. In South Asian history, the very birth of  post-colonial Pakistan and India underscores that same point. New borders redefined space–and that which we call ‘home‘.

Today, our neoliberal present still revolves around spatial politics. The global economic order cannot function without defining and assigning places and countries–in a word, space–to different rungs of inequality. The uneven distribution of resources is both cause and consequence of specific ideas about what certain places deserve and others do not.

Capitalist globalization has thus, also given rise to the megacity. These megalopolises, or global cities, are characterized not only by economic zones, financial districts, elite urban areas, and gated communities, but also by impoverished shanty towns, slums, labor camps, and neglected areas with high concentrations of rural or international migrants, as well as refugees and internally displaced. In short, the colonial city of yesterday is alive and well in the capitalist division of space today. And, that demarcation also allocates violence unequally whether its state violence in Balochistan or the attacks on Shia communities across Pakistan.

Two decades ago, the late intellectual, Eqbal Ahmad, described this phenomenon in Pakistani cities. “Every city holds the affluent in one set of spaces; the poor in another. The ‘beautiful people’ have locked the poor people out.”* To enforce this segregation between the elite and the poor, the militarization of space has since gone on steroids. Gated communities have proliferated, along with extensive networks of roads that mainly serve to connect one gated community to another. Ahmad called it “the apartheid map of Pakistan.” The global city anywhere today increasingly resembles that map. The flat world of neoliberal hallucinations notwithstanding, apartheid is now a global phenomenon.

It is with these reflections in mind that Tanqeed inaugurates Issue V: Space.

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–TQ Editors 8/25/2013

* Eqbal Ahmad, “A Question of Values” Dawn, September 20, 1992, reproduced in Between Past and Future: Selected Essays on South Asia (2004), Edited by Dohra Ahmad, Iftikhar Ahmad, Zulfiqar Ahmad, Zia Mian, p302


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