The Graduate Institute of Development [GIDS] hosted Second Economic History Society
Meeting on October 29 th , 2019 at 11:30 A.M. at Lahore School of Economics (City Campus).
The meeting was attended by distinguished guests such as Dr. Asad Sayeed, Dr. Pervaiz
Vandal, Mr. Raza Ali, and Dr. Kamil Khan Mumtaz.
The meeting started with a welcome address by Dr. Rashid Amjad who thanked the
distinguished guests, graduate students, and faculty and staff members at GIDS. He then
talked briefly about the Economic History of Pakistan since the Mughals (1520-2020) project
and the Economic History Society. He then invited Dr. Fareeha Zafar to talk about the
working paper, “The State of Lahore Under Colonialism” by Dr. Shahnaz Rouse.
Dr. Fareeha Zafar talked briefly about the postmodernist approach that Dr. Shahnaz Rouse
has deployed in her study of Lahore and how she raises some very important questions
through her study. She also lauded the use of diverse sources and perspectives in her paper
and talked briefly about some of the issues that she covers in her study of colonial Lahore:
military-geostrategic preoccupations of the colonial state, the coming of railways, and
Dr. Fareeha Zafar’s presentation was followed by an open discussion on the paper.
Mr. Pervaiz Vandal appreciated the non-linear, oriental approach of the paper and
commented upon how such approaches are important to decolonize the history of Pakistan.
He also stressed that arts, such as painting and music, can be an important archival source to
study the history of Lahore or Pakistan and suggested that the author could incorporate these
mediums in her study to add to its richness of scholarship.
Mr. Raza Ali appreciated the academic rigour of the paper and pointed out that the colonial
structure that evolved in Punjab was extremely different from the rest of India. It is very
clearly stated in the colonial archives that Punjab was to be run as a Frontier or a military
state. He suggested that the author could account for the state of exception in her study.
Dr. Kamil Khan Mumtaz raised his reservations about the epistemological approach used in
the study and questioned the primacy that postmodernism is taking in the academia today.
Dr. Asad Sayeed, acknowledged the relevance of the study by emphasizing how the remnants
of colonial structures today affect the economic development of Pakistan.
Dr. Anis Alam appreciated the paper for its unique contribution to colonial history but voiced
his concerns about the postmodernist approach of the paper as such an approach overlooks
the fact that the colonial rulers were able to build strong, extractive apparatuses that enabled
them to exploit its colonies very effectively. Furthermore, he suggested that the author could
incorporate the perspective of “Lahoris” of the time in order to capture a more holistic picture
of the state of Lahore under colonialism.