Publication Type:

Conference papers


Raphael Susewind


European Conference on South Asian Studies, July 27-30, Warsaw (2016)




Lucknow, home to Ahmad, Aasim and Ashfaq, can be a complicated place for Muslims. Former Nawabs speak of their nostalgia for a past long gone - but don't seem melancholic at all. Politicians promise jobs through affirmative action - and win elections though few actually believe them. And aspiring Ulema propagate a masculine morality for the emerging middle classes, to which many find it hard to adjust. In this embroglio of competing visions of the future, the three protagonists of my paper above all long /not/ to belong. Lucknow is their home, but that is surely no reason to stay. Ahmad, the upper class boy, thus constantly makes plans to intern in Singapur, maybe, or Honkong - not for money, but for 'experience' and 'exposure'. Alas, he remains stuck. Aasim, the lower middle class entrepreneur without opportunity, spends his nights dreaming of Switzerland and its women, one of whom he hopes will marry him. Ultimately, he ends up as a marginalized labourer in Dubai. Ashfaq, in contrast, is the only one who voluntarily stays in Lucknow - but faces a different set of challenges: he runs the only modern jazz dance parlour in the old city... By following the dreams of three young men, their masculine aspirations, mental maps of the world and the material restraints of class and religion that condition their different trajectories, my paper adds a deliberately ethnographic perspective on spatial mobility and migration, highlighting the small steps not taken rather than the global routes dreamt of.