First Social Science Winter School launched at IBA

The first Social Sciences Winter School, jointly organised by the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi and Centre for South Asian Studies in Paris (CEIAS, CNRS-EHESS) was launched at the IBA City Campus on Monday.

The theme of the first winter school is cities, urban change and heritage management through geo-technologies and digital humanities. The winter school will run from November 21 to November 26 and try to address issues at the interface between cities, urban change and heritage management focusing on scales of interpretation, theoretical questioning and methodological frameworks in interaction with various local and international stakeholders.

IBA Executive Director Dr S Akbar Zaidi and one of the organisers of the winter school opened the session discussing the importance of collaborations between the French scholars and local academics. He mentioned that about 50 participants had joined the school from different locations and multidisciplinary fields to learn more about cities and urban spaces.

Architect and Karachi Urban Resource Centre chairperson Arif Hasan delivered the keynote address titled, ‘A yet undefined city’. His speech focused on the way Karachi had evolved over the years and the role migration had played in the city’s expansion.

He discussed how rapidly changing circumstances due to the changing nature of migration had made it difficult to define the city and therefore difficult to identify, manage and conserve the city’s tangible and intangible heritage.

Hasan said that a lot had been written about every aspect of Karachi during the last two decades, but a few things that were shaping the future of the city in demographic and physical terms needed to be explored further.

“One, Karachi is a non Sindhi-speaking capital of a predominantly Sindhi-speaking province. Many of its governance-related issues arise from this reality,” he said, adding that this also gave rise to a constantly discussed question about the city’s ownership.

Secondly, he said the use of Karachi’s land was being decided increasingly by large developers backed by politicians and armed forces, and not on the basis of environmental and social considerations.

CEIAS Co-director Dr Remy Delage discussed how the winter school was “the culmination of a long process of creation, collaboration and interchanging of ideas between scholars from both countries”.

He expressed the hope that more such collaborations would continue between the two countries in the coming years. Dr Michel Boivin, CEIAS co-director, elaborated on the history of the relationship between French scholars and the research they carried out in Pakistan.

“The first French scholar came to work in Pakistan in 1950s who were archaeologists, when the CEIAS was also created with a focus on social sciences in South Asia. The winter school, therefore, is a symbol of achievement and is a very important event for us as it is a reminder of the evolution and continuation of the relationship between the Pakistani and French scholars”.

Additional plenary sessions were also organised to explore different themes unique to various workshops. Speakers included NED University Architecture Department Chairperson Dr Anila Naeem, CEIAS’s Dr Eric Denis and others.

Targeting students, emerging scholars and young professionals, the winter school will use advanced methodological and technological tools to provide intensive training to tackle urban questions from different angles and explore the nexus between cities, urban change and heritage management.

Published in The News 22 Nov 2023