Can Fun Be Feminist? Gender, Space and Mobility in Lyari, Karachi

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The densely populated, multi-ethnic area of Lyari in Karachi is one of the city’s original settlements. The area has become infamous as the site of an ongoing conflict between criminal gangs, political parties and law enforcement agencies for over a decade, and, for this reason, Lyari has been labelled as one of several ‘no-go areas’ in the city. However, for the residents of Lyari, the ways in which they understand their part of the city far exceed these facile labels. While at times their neighbourhoods do become fearful spaces, they are also places of comfort, familiarity and fun. This article explores the multiple ways in which women and girls experience and understand this area. In particular, it documents the various ways in which they express and experience enjoyment in their everyday lives and during exceptional moments. Based on extensive interviews and participant observation in several neighbourhoods, the research shifts attention away from solely using violence as a lens to understand urban space and away from seeing women mainly as victims of violence. Focusing on the pursuit of fun and enjoyment as an area of academic inquiry can be an important way to show how women push against and challenge patriarchal boundaries. By highlighting women’s and girls’ own creative navigations and engagements with their locality and the city, this paper brings new insights into discussions of gender and urban marginalisation more generally.




Kirmani, N. (2020). Can Fun Be Feminist? Gender, Space and Mobility in Lyari, Karachi. South Asia: Journal of South Asia Studies, 43(2), 319–331.

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