Downwardly Global

Women, Work, and Citizenship in the Pakistani Diaspora

Book Pages: 224 Illustrations: Published: March 2017

Author: Lalaie Ameeriar

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Asian American Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies

In Downwardly Global Lalaie Ameeriar examines the transnational labor migration of Pakistani women to Toronto. Despite being trained professionals in fields including engineering, law, medicine, and education, they experience high levels of unemployment and poverty. Rather than addressing this downward mobility as the result of bureaucratic failures, in practice their unemployment is treated as a problem of culture and racialized bodily difference. In Toronto, a city that prides itself on multicultural inclusion, women are subjected to two distinct cultural contexts revealing that integration in Canada represents not the erasure of all differences, but the celebration of some differences and the eradication of others. Downwardly Global juxtaposes the experiences of these women in state-funded unemployment workshops, where they are instructed not to smell like Indian food or wear ethnic clothing, with their experiences at cultural festivals in which they are encouraged to promote these same differences. This form of multiculturalism, Ameeriar reveals, privileges whiteness while using race, gender, and cultural difference as a scapegoat for the failures of Canadian neoliberal policies.


“Ameeriar’s book echoes an important refrain from diasporic feminist scholars, insisting that despite the various scales at which disenfranchisement and violence function, migrant women resourcefully find ways to persist.” — Kareem Khubchandani, Journal of Asian American Studies

"By focusing on how foreign bodies are deemed illegible in some contexts and legible in others, Ameeriar is able to illustrate how precarity and poverty are not only economic conditions but also affective and sensorial ones." — Anar Parikh, Association for Feminist Anthropology

“Radically subversive, superbly written.” — Pnina Werbner, Pacific Affairs

"This book is very timely and informative about the global processes of movement and social mobility highly sought among migrants in an age where immigration provides a plethora of spaces to advance oneself beyond the confines and limitations in one’s country of origin." — Serah Shani, City & Society

"Of interest to scholars of citizenship and governance, globalization and neoliberalism, gender and embodiment, multiculturalism and race, this book is a rich read for its deployment of analytical concepts and the creation of two new ones: pedagogies of affect and sanitized sensorium." — Alison Shaw, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"Lalaie Ameeriar's critical examination of multiculturalism offers ethnographic nuance to long existing—and largely theoretical—debates about gender, cultural difference, and the multicultural state. By bringing these debates to life through the everyday lives of the women she interviews, Ameeriar highlights the urgency of these debates, as well as the lessons that we as scholars and citizens have yet to fully learn." — Smitha Radhakrishnan, author of Appropriately Indian: Gender and Culture in a New Transnational Class

"As one of the few ethnographies on women from Pakistan, Downwardly Global offers a much-needed counterpoint to North American analyses of diaspora that overwhelmingly privilege the United States. Lalaie Ameeriar assesses the complexity of the role of gender in diasporic and migratory experiences, making a timely intervention into a number of debates and issues, from multiculturalism, the state, and bureaucratic institutions to gender, racialization, and the Pakistani diaspora. An important contribution to South Asian American studies." — Junaid Rana, author of Terrifying Muslims: Race and Labor in the South Asian Diaspora


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Price: $25.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Lalaie Ameeriar is Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  vii
Introduction  1
1. Bodies and Bureaucracies  25
2. Pedagogies of Affect  53
3. Sanitizing Citizenship  75
4. Racializing South Asia  101
5. The Catastrophic Present  127
Conclusion  153
Notes  169
References  181
Index  201
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Honorable Mention, Gloria E. Anzuldua Prize, presented by the National Women's Studies Association

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6316-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6301-9
Publicity material