SAS Colloquium Series: Experiments in Rural Modernization: Fertility and Technology in the Pakistan Academy for Rural Development’s “Laboratory” in Comilla, East Pakistan, 1960-1970, Tariq Omar Ali

Event time: 
Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Henry R. Luce Hall (LUCE ), 203 See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

In February 1960, Ayub Khan’s military regime designated Comilla thana, an administrative area of 107 square miles with 200,000 residents in agrarian and deltaic East Pakistan, a “laboratory” where the newly-created Pakistan Academy of Rural Development would conduct experiments in rural development. Over the following decade, with considerable funding from US-based donor agencies, the PARD conducted a panoply of development projects in its experimental laboratory. This paper examines two of these projects: irrigation and birth control. Both projects were structured around certain technologies of controlling fertility: mechanized tubewells to grow an extra-crop of rice and condoms and foaming tablets to control women’s reproduction. In the eyes of PARD officials, in order to induce peasants to use these technologies, they had to carry out a broad transformation in peasant men and women’s social, sexual, and intellectual lives. This paper examines how development projects construed ideas of peasant backwardness and practices of peasant modernization – that is, development projects – around technologies of controlling water and women’s bodies in Comilla, East Pakistan during the 1960s, concluding on the eve of Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971.

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