Social Movements, Land Rights and Politics in Pakistan

The Ethics of Staying: Social Movements and Land Rights Politics in Pakistan is a book by Mubbashir A. Rizvi and published by Stanford University Press in 2019. The book is reviewed by JCA by Kenneth Bo Nielsen of the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo , Norway.

Nielsen welcomes the book, which places Pakistan at the centre of global debates on land rights and dispossession, making its a valuable contribution to discussions of land conflicts and politics in South Asia.

According to the reviewer, The Ethics of Staying is a useful, historically informed account of the Anjuman Mazarin Punjab (Punjab Tenants Association), formed in 2000 by tenants of the military farms in Punjab’s Okara district. It protested the replacement of “the century-old practice of rent-in-kind sharecropping with a cash-based land lease program…”. It was the largest mobilisation of peasants in rural Punjab since Partition.

The reviewer concludes that Rizvi’s account of a reasonably successful movement and “mobilisation for rights to land and livelihood also offers a glimmer of hope at a conjuncture where both Pakistan and India are turning increasingly authoritarian and display ever-decreasing tolerance for the rights-based claims of subaltern movements.”

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