Faqiri: Subaltern Religion in a Neoliberal City


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowships




This project explores faqiri, an understudied and yet widely circulating subaltern religious tradition in
contemporary Lahore, Pakistan, that emerges at the intersection of the living tradition of world-renouncing malangs and third-gender khwaja saras who wander the city, and the people who aspire
towards this ideal as expressed in Punjabi poetry. Wandering with these people and documenting usage and circulation of this poetry, the project argues that this tradition represents a distinct and popular religious and political tradition that opens up alternative visions of life, gender, bodies, and space, which challenge the hegemony of state-sponsored and money-backed versions of Islam. As such it points to religio-political potentialities emerging out of an Islamic tradition that challenge the contemporary binary of secular progressivism and religious conservatism.