Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Naila Mahmood – Inner City Kitchens in Karachi: A Microcosm of the Crowded City

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Old RISD Library, College Building 521, 236 Benefit Street, Providence, RI

Kitchens in the inner city of Karachi are invisible, gendered spaces that are emblems of social, spatial and gender inequality. In this presentation, I strive to chronicle the small fragment of life around these spaces, which have complex sociological layers, often missed in statistics. The presentation consists of photographs, texts and reflective poetry about the city of Karachi, Pakistan; its migratory history and urban citizenship. Although the photographs deal in particular with the inner city kitchens, they are reflective of the larger issues of urban density and ensuing pressures.

A teeming city of 21-24 million people, Karachi is the largest city in Pakistan. It has endured an enormous population growth of 115% from 1998 to 2011. During this period, its population grew from 9.8 million to 21.2 million, transforming it into a major megacity of the world. Many waves of migrations have left different ethnic communities scrambling to find a precarious foothold in the race for space and employment. The pressures on the kitchens, endured mostly by women, stand as symbols of housing injustice - showing the pressing issues of urban density and the affordability crisis.

Naila Mahmood is a Karachi based visual artist, writer and documentary photographer. Her work revolves around the complexities of urban spaces. She also does research based photographic projects. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally. She is a member of the Executive Council and adjunct faculty at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. She is the Director of the Vasl Artists’ Association.

This lecture is part of the Art History From the South Series, which aligns with the Cogut Institute Collaborative Humanities graduate seminar of the same title (HMAN 2400H: Art History from the South: Circulations, Simulations, Transfigurations), as well as the Cogut Institute Collaborative Humanities international symposium entitled How Secular is Art? to be held on October 26-27, 2018. Read more about the series here.

Center for Contemporary South Asia