children, cultural, desi

Squashing the Pakistani out of me

I’ve been carrying the US Citizenship test materials in my car, planning on putting the CD in my stereo just as soon as I’m done listening to ‘Brick Lane.’ Raihana saw the booklet yesterday. And completely unexpectedly, she said:

“Mama, I don’t want the Pakistani to get squashed out of you – the way the Dursleys said they’d squash the magic out of Harry Potter. – Because I want to learn more things about Pakistan everyday!”

On the one hand, I am pleased that my daughter has a protective and nurturing impulse toward Pakistani culture. I’m also happy that she is consciously aware of the processes of cultural assimilation, stigma, and acculturation.

On the other hand, I’m concerned that she possibly suspects that I am “acting [too] white.” I’d also perhaps prefer that she were not aware of the expectation that I “squash” the Pakistani out – but this awareness is inevitable. She has shown an acute awareness that not everyone knows about Urdu, Eid, and dupattas, and at times is quite put out by this.

At other times, she parades a dupatta around so that everyone will know about Pakistan. At such times, I have conflicting impulses: I want to protect her from racist bigotry yet I want her to be proud and comfortable in her skin.


Publish your work in Anthropology and Education Quarterly! (Repost)

This is a re-post from Sally Campbell Galman’s blog.  I’m an Associate Editor at Anthropology and Education Quarterly.


Anthropology and Education Quarterly
General Call for Papers

Anthropology & Education Quarterly is a peer-reviewed journal, housed at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. It draws on anthropological theories and methods to examine educational processes in and out of schools, in US and international contexts. Articles rely primarily on ethnographic research to address immediate problems of practice as well as broad theoretical questions surrounding issues that impact research and practice in the field. We value diverse ways of knowing and weaving together theory, research, practice, and social justice to directly address issues and institutions that impact teaching and learning in the educational experiences of children, families, and communities within and beyond the classroom setting. We also see the journal as a key site for providing connection, support and feedback to emerging scholars in the field. Finally, to all of this we must reaffirm the journal’s long tradition of supporting anti-oppressive, socially equitable, and racially, socially and gender-just education.

The journal publishes two different types of scholarly work, manuscripts and reflections. (1) Manuscripts should be no more than 35 pages in length. (2) Reflections from/on the Field should be approximately 15-20 pages in length. Both should be formatted as Word documents and blinded for anonymous peer review.

We are eager to receive your manuscript submissions.

For more information visit us at:

You may also contact the Editors-in-Chief, Dr. Laura Alicia Valdiviezo and Dr. Sally Campbell Galman at


Doctoral regalia

I just arrived. Today, I acquired the regalia that visibly identify me as a member of the scholarly class.

I got my PhD in 2006, but I never bought the regalia. I also never made the trip back to Indiana so I could “walk” (i.e. walk across the stage during a graduation ceremony, be “hooded” by my advisor, and be photographed so I could add that photograph to my collection of status markers). Why didn’t I get the regalia and “walk”? I didn’t have the spare cash that would fund a trip to Indiana as well as an expensive set of robes. Of course I was also a new mother at that time, and I couldn’t really spare the time either. Also, my parents are in Pakistan, so who was going to tear up as they watched me walk? No one. The ritual didn’t hold meaning for me.

For the past several years, I’ve rented robes whenever I was obligated to attend my employing institution’s graduation or convocation ceremonies. This costs me about $60 each time. After a few rentals, one realizes that this is a bloody waste of money. In other words, it’s become cheaper to buy the regalia. I confess, too, that I envy my colleagues’ colorful regalia, and feel like a poor country cousin when I show up wearing a rental gown with the colors of my *employer* and not my doctoral institution. Horrors! I always shrink a little when eyes are cast upon me with the question, “Why don’t you have regalia from a different institution? Don’t you have a PhD? Is your PhD not from a reputable institution worthy of recognition through regalia?”

As a member of the toiling scholarly masses, this month – seven years after my PhD was awarded – I was able to purchase a velveteen gown and hood with the correct colors and a six-sided tam, no less. It’s probably no accident that I felt stable enough to also frame my PhD diploma and my MPhil diploma and tack them both up in my office.

It’s just one thing I can cross off my list. I now have regalia. I have arrived. Possibly, for some, donning regalia and posing for photographs in said regalia is a moment of pride and joy. Me, I feel like I just finished a load of laundry. What’s next on the list?

What’s next on your list?

Education and its symbols are some of the most hilariously bourgeois status markers of all. How affluent are you, after all, that you have the money to study for years and years, in contrast to most people in the world who struggle daily to fill their stomachs? The affluence of scholarship is not enough, though. I must fling it in the face of the world by donning gowns and caps with gold tassels on them.

The years spent in the service of scholarship are not enough though. One must pay through the nose to obtain the markers of this scholarship.