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Title: The Demographic State: Population, Global Biopolitics, and Decolonization in South Asia, 1947-71
Authors: Qayyum, Amna
Advisors: Prakash, Gyan
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: Authoritarianism
Cold War
Family Planning
Islamic Modernism
Social Sciences
Subjects: History
South Asian studies
Science history
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: In 1961 Pakistan became the second country in the world, following India, to enact an official fertility control policy. Over the course of the next decade, by transforming a prior urban, clinical focus into an expansive statewide project of population control, Pakistan emerged as an epicenter for transnational demographic research and practice. In dialogue with a “global population establishment”, Pakistani actors debated effective methods for calculating demographic statistics, while crafting strategies for the mass adoption of particular contraceptive technologies and reshaping socio-cultural norms. These transnational projects of population control also stimulated debate over normative state power, political and economic inequities between East and West Pakistan, and Cold War geopolitics - ultimately shaping protests against Ayub Khan’s authoritarian regime during the late 1960s. Set within the context of two partitions – of British India in 1947 and the Bangladesh War of Liberation in 1971 – this study traces histories of population management to analyze state-making, and unmaking, in East and West Pakistan. It situates Pakistan not simply as a Cold War laboratory, but rather as a critical geography in the production of demographic knowledge and practices. “The Demographic State” argues that postwar regimes of eugenic and Malthusian knowledge were not solely tools of an expanding Cold War era American security apparatus. Drawing on materials from social scientists, medical and public health professionals, women’s welfare activists, bureaucrats, and Islamic modernists, this dissertation examines how intersecting national and transnational currents of population management were crucial in shaping normative understandings of reproduction, religious authority, and development; fashioning practices and technologies of postcolonial state-making; and instituting racialized and gendered forms of global governance. However, rather than seeing emergent forms of global governance as a powerless web transcending national borders, this study offers fresh insights into how postcolonial sovereignty intersected with, and disrupted, global biopolitical projects. It demonstrates that population management was a multi-scalar project grounded not only in racialized Cold War biology and economy, but also in the ethical and normative considerations underpinning practices of postcolonial state-making. Building on histories of decolonization in South Asia, Cold War science and technology, and Islamic thought this dissertation then analyzes how the encounters between postcolonial sovereignty and global biopolitics unfolded in everyday Pakistan.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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