Author Archives: arafiqui

Who Can Make Knowledge Claims?

We sit together in his small living room. There are no windows, and the little light that comes in is through small apertures where the walls meet the ceiling. There is no furniture either, and we sit on the surprisingly cool, immaculately clean cement floor. One of his children had placed a small cushion against […]

An Invisible Violence

What is most material to some might not even exist for others. – Sara Ahmed Upon seeing me, she stopped dead in her tracks. A look of panic came over her as she took a step back, as if to run. But she must have seen that I was equally surprised, and she stopped and […]

Invisible Geographies

If the idea of the modern nation-state is sustained by producing imagined communities, it also involves actively producing unimagined communities…whose vigorously unimagined condition becomes indispensable to maintaining a highly selective discourse of national development. – Rob Nixon For the British Indian colonial administration, western science and technical expertise, was the only way to develop regional […]

Losing An Ocean

The landscape should belong to the people who see it all the time. – Amiri Baraka __ “The ocean no longer belongs to us.” I hear Khair Jan inhale deeply as he says this. I realize, when I turn around to look at him, that he isn’t speaking to me. He isn’t speaking to anyone […]

Men By The Sea

My mornings in Gwadar were spent on the waterfront. It was the coolest hour of the day, and also one of the busiest as fishermen, boat builders, fish traders, tea sellers, and young men doing calisthenics, all converged on a small stretch of beach facing the waterfront locally known as Paddi Zirr. Each morning as […]

New York City Experiments

I arrive in New York in a few days to try out a new experiment. It has been a few years in the making, and it has taken a few months of find funding for it. But now it is ready to be performed. The Polis Project‘s first Un/Do-Photography workshop will start in New  York […]

The First Un / Do-Photography Workshop Announced

We at The Polis Project are conducting our first ‘Decolonise Photography’ workshop in New York, from 19th to 23rd November, 2019. You can learn more about them by going to the link shown above, or here.  The workshops are open to all. And they are completely free.  Over the course of five intensive days of […]

America The Beautiful And The Dreams of Pakistani Liberals

We have become accustomed to certain ways of seeing and speaking about the world. The Pakistani liberal – a caste that has been educated and nurtured on Western educational, political and cultural ideologies absorbed during years abroad at college, or careers, and through popular Western visual and literary media (fiction, non-fiction books), offers a particularly […]

A Man In The Sun

This is an essay without reason. It emerges as a result of recent discussions with a friend and colleague about decolonialisation–what it means, how does it apply to various areas of human knowledge, and what can it mean for photography. Actually, this essay without reason emerges as a result of discussions at The Polis Project […]

Rebel Cities: The Anti-Colonial Imagination & The Dilemmas of the Present

At the end of 2011 I stopped making photographs. I did not stop working as a photographer, but I stopped making the kinds of photographs I was making in India. Those were very special photographs. From 2009 to 2011, my work on The Idea of India project, had been nothing short of a deeply ecstatic, emotional and […]