SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Mr Mustafa Khan

LLB (Honours) University of Dundee, MA (Distinction) Anthropology of Development (SOAS)
  • Research
  • Publications


Mustafa Ahmed Khan
Mr Mustafa Khan
Email address:
Thesis title:
Making them look the Other way! The (Ir)rationality of road building in the Sindh Borderlands of Pakistan
Year of Study:
Internal Supervisors


Before coming to anthropology, I have spent over ten years working within infrastructure development, on projects such as the London Olympics.

Among those that I worked with, there was a general consensus that infrastructure provides a basic system that a country or organization “needs” in order for it to work properly, for example roads, railways, and electricity sub-stations. However, the reality seems to show that this “technical” assessment seems to obscure the fact that the building of roads, ports etc tends to lead to the production of inequalities and are often sites of contestations.

I have also helped organize a Conference in conjunction wit the South Asia Institute at SOAS called The Familiar Stranger: Exploring Sindh- Gujarat (Dis)connections. I presented the following paper: Making them look the Other way! The (Ir)rationality of road building in Sindh.

PhD Research

My research is based on the study of the coal mining project located in the southern Pakistan province of Sindh. In particular, I will focus on the construction of 200 kilometres of road to facilitate access to mine area. The coal mining project is situated in the Tharparkar region, which shares a 500 kilometre frontier with India. Relations between Pakistan and India have remained tense since they both gained independence from Britain in 1947, and this colours Pakistani government policy towards Tharparkar.

The exploitation of the mine requires the displacement or ‘negotiated resettlement’ of many tens of thousands of people who are marginal to the interests of the national project in Pakistan. Before the Partition of the sub-continent in 1947, Sindh had close links with what is now western India. Today, the Tharparker district of Sindh continues to have a Hindu majority (60%, with the remainder Muslim). That the mine will displace religious and linguistic minorities adds to the sensitivity of the project.

This project will be built on the ethnographic study of the contemporary mining project and the history of the borderland. 

This PhD is funded by the European Research Council called Roads and the politics of thought: Ethnographic approaches to infrastructure development in South Asia. Roads is a five year ethnographic research project on infrastructure development in South Asia.


  • 2018 Review of 'Azan on the Moon: Entangling Modernity along Tajikistan’s Pamir Highway' by Till Mostowlansky Transfers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies 8 (1) 146-148.
  • 2018 'Review of Politics, landlords and Islam in Pakistan' by Nicolas Martin: Commonwealth & Comparative Politics Volume 56:3 399-401


  • An ethnography of checkpoints: creating order in the Sindh borderlands'. at the Order beyond the Borders: Sovereignty and Citizenship in Asia and the Indian Ocean World Conference', Habib University, Karachi, Pakistan (March 2017).
  • 'Power, Authority and Negotiation: A look at the Land Acquisition Regime in Pakistan’. Researching the politics of South Asia 70 years after independence. Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London: London (July 2017).
  • 'Coal roads in Pakistan and the contradictions of modernity' at the Second International Workshop on Roadology, Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen, China (October 2017)
  • 'Those with big stick get the buffalo: An ethnographic interrogation of the land acquisition regime in Pakistan' at Modalities of Displacement in South Asia Conference, Leiden University, The Netherlands (June 14-15, 2018)
  • 'We are Dalit, but we are Pakistani too: The Dalit Sujhaaj Tehrik and Dalit Mobilization in Pakistan', at the 18th Annual British Association of South Asian Studies (BASAS) Conference, Exeter England (April 2018)
  • 'The Making of a “new Dubai”: Infrastructural Rhetoric and Development in Pakistan' at the 6th Conference of the Asian Borderlands Research Network. Borderlands Spaces: Ruins, Revival(s) and Resources American University of Central Asia Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan 13-15 August 2018
  • 'The Dalit Sujhaag Tehrik: An interogation of a Dalit rights group in Pakistan' at the South Asia Anthropologists Group (SAAG) annual conference 5-6 September 2018, St John’s College, University of Oxford
  • 'We are Dalit but we are Pakistani too. The Dalit movement in Pakistan', Pol10: Dalits and other stigmatized groups at the Annual Association of Social Anthropology Conference, Oxford September 2018


  • Habib University (Karachi, Pakistan)


  • Borderlands
  • Anthropology of the State
  • Anthropology of Infrastructure


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