Ali Sameer

Research title

The Securitization of Pakistan and its impact on primary girl’s education

Research summary

The securitization of Pakistan and its impact on the social construction of girls' education


The study is conducted in the global context where Foucault and Butler’s approaches to study gender and education have grabbed the attention of scholars from all over the world. This lensification and academic cherrypicking made its way to the South Asian context, as well, in recent times. Whether it is the application of Foucault to study history in South Asian context , or the quest of academics to examine the South Asian governmentalities , the Foucauldian resonance is getting louder day by day in the South Asian context. Likewise, the growing influence of Butler’s work is penetrating the South Asian feminist literature , and, also, assisting local , and foreign scholars to unravel the women issues in the South Asian context .

Resultantly, the academic current of Foucault and Butler has hit the social inquiry shores of Pakistan as well. Although, the contemporary scholarship on education and gender is profoundly influenced by the Foucauldian imprints , but in the case of Pakistan, there are scarcely limited major works that stand out in this context. M. Ayaz Naseem’s Education and Gendered Citizenship in Pakistan, incorporates the Foucauldian poststructuralist feminist analysis to overview the textbooks used in public schools and the gendered subjectivities produced in a postcolonial state due to social, economic, political and legal issues. It makes a claim that the educational discourse in Pakistan disempower women, and ensures the longevity of the gendered status quo, which in itself challenges the development narrative that education promotes progression.

Additionally, in the recently published, Forging the Ideal Educated girl, Shenila Khoja-Moolji , offers a Foucault inspired genealogy of ‘educated girl’ in the colonial and postcolonial India and Pakistan, by examining the educational reform discourses. She argues that the advocacy on women’s and girl's education, is not about accessibility and empowerment, but forging the ideal educated Muslim girl subject. Moreover, Kieran Ford , utilises the Foucauldian notion of savage vs barbarian to examine the securitization of education in North-West Pakistan. In her article, she argues that due to the securitization of education, it has ‘weaponised’ the education, and given way to a ‘mind-set’ which aims to transform ‘the extremist mind-set into an educated mind-set’ . According to her such global interventions have further inculcated insecurity in the educational discourse. Furthermore, the application of Foucauldian thought to understand the matters of power, governmentality, education, and gender are appearing , but still the academic domain is scarce of Foucauldian studies in the context of Pakistan, particularly, gender and education.

Similarly, the performativity narrative has penetrated the Pakistan academia. However, contrary to Foucauldian analysis, Butler is still an alien voice for the Pakistani academics. A deep digging of the academic archives, such as journal articles, and academic books, depicts that Butler mostly acts as a passing reference , specifically the notion of performativity , as the researchers and academics wrestle the binary world of gender, and, as well, education, in the context of postcolonial South Asia. For example, even if there are attempts to challenge the muted voices of the transgenders, in a heteronormatively constructed society, Butler exists in the text as a mandatory gender ideologue citation , but the textual analysis fails to incorporate her ideas to unearth the issue of the binary gendered formation. A text, which to some extent, attempts to merge the intricate gaps between theoretical statements and practical principles, as it tries to unravel the socially constructed binary practices of gender that instigate the exclusion of transgenders from the Pakistani gender discourse, is a standalone application of Butler’s notion of performativity to address the appalling situation of transgenders in Pakistan. But just like the binary gender world of Pakistan, where transgenders are an invisible and muted gender, Sidra Zubairi’s , Gender Beyond Binary, loses its voice in comparison to women and girls education research, that is prompted by the international development wave of 1970s , which focuses on practical interventions to improve the dismal condition of women issues . Resulting in a significant gap that further creates a void between theory and practice.

Consequently, this gap between theory and practice plays a crucial rationale to construct a theoretical framework, based on Foucauldian discourse and Butler’s performativity, and apply it to a postcolonial state to explore the nuances of gender and education. In this regard, Pakistan, as a case study, offers an academic space to contest Foucauldian discourse approach and Butler’s performativity theory, in an enigmatic country , that till today is struggling to come to terms to its postcolonial past .The two-pronged investigation provides a timely opportunity to further inflate the educational research by applying an intersected notions of Butler and Foucault to a non- Anglo-European world, but, contrarily, it also opens up a debate on the application of Anglo-European theoretical underpinnings to investigate educational and gender nuances in a postcolonial state.

Now, coming to Pakistan, it not only offers a unique and intriguing case to further explore the domain of educational studies, in a country where both education and gender are contested subject, but presents an interesting scenario to interrogate the application of the Western theoretical frameworks in a security-centric and religion-soaked-ideological nation-state, which has a swaying relationship with its colonial past. Deviating from the plethora of standard educational studies on girl’s education in Pakistan, which either reflects the international development agenda on girl’s education , that in itself is triggered by the Western social movements that highlights the case of women rights and civil rights , or assesses education as a medium of women empowerment in Pakistan . I intend to take few steps away from the change through education jingle, and explore the social construction of girls’ education in a security-centric nation-state, where the religious ideology becomes the bedrock of a postcolonial country. The intersectionality between Foucault, Butler, and Pakistan, facilitates to explore the dismal situation of girl’s education, not restricting itself to descriptive explanations of socio-economic and cultural barriers as highlighted by numerous studies , but to clasp social production of gender and education inside the contested security discourse of a postcolonial state.



Sameer, A. (2016). Foucault, regime of practices, and productive power: Understanding the role of security actors in the securitization of Pakistan. (Foucault @ 90 Conference 2016). Ayr: Scotland, June 22-23 (Unpublished)

Sameer, A. (2018). How does the securitization of Pakistan impact the social construction of primary girl’s education? (ECER 2018). Balzano: Italy, Sept 3-7 (Unpublished). 


Sept 2016 - Jan 2018: Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA), IESR (Introduction to Educational and Social Research Methods), School of Education, University of Glasgow.

Jan 2017 - May 2018: Graduate Teaching Assistant, AER (Advanced Educational Research), School of Education, University of Glasgow.