My thesis is titled: “Tribal Territories and the Trap of the Story of a Postcolonial Pakistan.” It addresses– or at least makes a preliminary attempt to– the fallacies in the nation-state narrative of Pakistan with regards to its tribal borderlands. It covers aspects ranging from the political nature of media consumption in shaping a statist narrative to the colonial legacies of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, to the distinct customs of tribal residents. Lastly, it argues that the way the chaotic and state-centric narrative surrounding drone warfare in these regions only further marginalizes the tribal territories, and asks for an alternate manner with which to address the particularities of the region itself.
2) Did you go abroad to do your research?
I went home to Pakistan during winter break and interviewed military officials, journalists and academics.
3) What was the thesis process/experience was like?
The process began with my fascination with drones in general. My advisor, Professor Himadeep Muppidi in the Political Science department, gently guided me towards a more focused approach towards drones– which led to my deviation from the illegality of the warfare to a more theoretical, deconstructive study of the process of “reading” the narrative surrounding the events themselves. It was a very personal experience because it revealed to me what it meant for me to be a Pakistani citizen abroad, partaking in the very act of “foreign” consumption of narrative.
4) Please describe your journey of Vassar.
I absolutely love Vassar and I already miss it, although I have a little over a month left. My sister went to Vassar so I was already privy to its culture and student life, but I definitely molded it to my own personality. I was very close to my student fellow group and lived with my roommate (who is one of my best friends to this day!) for sophomore year as well. I chose to go abroad to the University of St Andrews in Scotland in the fall semester, which was a beautiful and scenic location with an absolutely mind-blowing International Relations department. In terms of extra-curriculars, I served as the treasurer of Joss (which is Boss, by the way) for my sophomore year and was President of the South Asian Students Alliance for my junior and senior years. I have found my best friends at Vassar and couldn’t be happier with my decision to come here.
5) What’s next?
I will be working as a paralegal at a civil rights litigation firm in D.C.
6) What do you think prospective students should know about Vassar?
Vassar is what you make of it. Some people absolutely hate it, but I think that if you find your niche, there is no way you can’t find yourself doing a variety of things you love. Explore and don’t regret anything you do!