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Latif, Mehr (2013) EXPLORING THE STRUCTURE AND PRACTICE OF KINSHIP GROUPS IN PAKISTAN. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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In this thesis, I examine the structure and practice of kinship groups in Pakistan. For the majority of Pakistanis, kinship is the most fundamental basis of identity, superseding membership to a particular religious sect, social group, or economic class. Kinship groups are based on class, geography, and occupation, following the Hindu-caste structure, a structure that was inherited by Pakistan following the partition of the two countries in 1947. While kinship groups are an important social structure that is critical to local governance, they have been ignored in the literature since the 1970s. This thesis aims to fill the gap in the literature by exploring contemporary kinship structures and the role that they play in local governance, specifically dispute resolution. In order to illuminate relationships between kinship groups and their constituents and how such kinship groups intersect with the state, I examine the space of the dharra, which is defined literally as the physical courtyard space where local landlords hold their negotiations. This study of the dharra helps to elucidate both the social ties between kinship groups as well as how they connect to institutions of the state. I discuss how interactions within the dharra help landlords develop social capital that translates into votes during times of election. Through this research, I discover that the dharra continues to be a central local governance mechanism, responsible for dispute resolution. In addition, the dharra serves as an important mobilizing mechanism during times of election. Contrary to the existing research on Pakistan, my research reveals that in spite of the hierarchy within kinship networks, there is some measure of answerability. As kinship groups operate by consensus, they have to be responsive to their members to some degree, and the selection of the kinship leader is somewhat competitive. This study suggests that any study of democracy in Pakistan must consider the role of kinship groups in local governance structures.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Latif, Mehrmel93@pitt.eduMEL93
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBamyeh, Mohammedmab25@pitt.eduMAB25
Committee MemberHashimoto, Akikoahash@pitt.eduAHASH
Committee MemberMarkoff, Johnjm2@pitt.eduJM2
Date: 30 June 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 18 January 2013
Approval Date: 30 June 2013
Submission Date: 20 February 2013
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 71
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Sociology
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Pakistan, democracy, social capital, kinship
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2013 16:14
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:09


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