Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



The Dynamics of Changing Ethnic Boundaries: A Case Study ofKarachi

Contrary to expectation, and the generally accepted belief that ethnicity defines one’s primordial identity and is, therefore, relevant and functional only in a re-model context, the phenomenon of ethnicity has surfaced in the modem world as a force more vital than class conflict and a source more pertinent to resolving perceived inequalities and thereby affecting desired social change. This paper examines the ethnic garb assumed by the uprisings and armed conflicts currently ravaging Karachi. The examination is undertaken within the framework of Hannan’s model of the dynamics of interactions between the center and the periphery (as based on Barth’s niche theory). The paper, thus, seeks to understand the conditions which caused the definition, reinforcement, and functional relevance of ethnic:: boundaries, as well as the consequent salience of the phenomenon in the modem urban context.

Soofia Mumtaz

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