Accepted Paper:

Kings into Beggars: The Last Banjo Nawaz in Karachi  

Author:

Aaron Mulvany (Habib University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores what happened when one family of musicians decided to remain in Pakistan when others were leaving and why, in the face of significant negative consequences, that decision has been repeated by each subsequent generation.

Paper long abstract:

In the years immediately following the Partition of the Indian subcontinent, many musicians chose to migrate from Pakistan to India for reasons neither political or religious. Faced with significant disruptions to classical traditions in the newly separate Pakistan, members of the gharana from which originated the so-called Balochi banjo chose, and continue to choose, to remain in the new nation. While migration between the two countries remained comparatively easy into the mid-1950s, as mobility between the countries was increasingly restricted in subsequent years, each new generation's reaffirmation to stay laid another brick in the road to the seemingly inevitable demise of the classical banjo, a distinct tradition barely a century old. Offering a preliminary account of this singular gharana, this paper explores the tensions and consequences that have followed the initial decision to remain in Pakistan and examines each subsequent generation's decision to stay in the face of increasing obscurity. Using techniques drawn from auto-ethnographic practice, the author will also discuss the role in which he has been (unwillingly) cast by his interlocutors in order to examine the contradictions inherent in contemporary ethnographic practice, the relationship between ethnographer and ethnographic subject, and the meaning of continuity in the face of change.

Panel P114
Permanence: anthropologies of what stays