Challenging the landed elite in contemporary Pakistani politics

in Journal of Legal Anthropology
Author:
Stephen M. LyonAga Khan University stephen.lyon@aku.edu

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Abstract

Since independence in 1947, highly politicised kinship practices have shaped the country from rural agricultural villages to the highest legislative and executive branches of government and the military. Ideal models of patrilineal affiliation have defined and guided patterns of factional loyalties. Although my earlier work has principally focused on village networks and politics, the same patterns of factional alliances can be seen at national levels to shed light on the activities of party politics. The mechanisms adopted by the traditional landed elite, far from being challenged, are integral to the strategic success of non-landed elites in securing the top, public, elected positions of power. So, rather than suggesting landed elites have become irrelevant, I argue the source of wealth is ultimately less relevant than the broader socio-economic shard class and familial interests of a minority elite bound together through marriage.

Contributor Notes

Stephen M. Lyon is Professor of Anthropology at Aga Khan University's Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations in London. He is a political anthropologist who has worked extensively in rural and urban Pakistan for two decades and has published widely on kinship, conflict and resource management. Email: Stephen.Lyon@aku.edu

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