The Historical Quarters of Karachi
Cheema, Yasmin. The Historical Quarters of Karachi. Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2007, 185pp.


The Historical Quarters of Karachi

The Historical Quarters of Karachi is based on a detailed study of Karachi’s historic areas by Yasmin Cheema, an architect and conservationist of Pakistan.

The study is based on the premise that “Karachi has a rich tangible and intangible heritage”, the tangible being the architectural structures and the intangible the culture of its people. Both the culture and the historical sites of Karachi face environmental hasards, population pressure and other developmental challenges. If this heritage is not conserved properly it will soon be lost, warns the author.

Divided into seven chapters, the book includes a bibliography of books, reports, legislative publications, articles and news clippings. The annex at the end of the book explains in detail the methodology used for the study.

The book traces Karachi’s history from the Vedic Period to present times, highlighting its status at different stages of its history and illustrating the immense developmental, environmental, demographic, and cultural pressures on the city.

The author describes the few surviving old areas and structures and explains how over time the mixed cultural group of Hindus, Muslims, Zoroastrians, Goan Catholics and other Christians who populated these areas slowly moved away because of the above mentioned pressures. The areas and buildings left behind are now occupied for commercial purposes for which they were not originally built, resulting in the swift deterioration of these historic structures. 

The author’s suggestion that there should be restoration and preservation of such individual buildings as well as civic complexes of high historic and architectural value is commendable, as it would result in the preservation of the whole landscape. 

Though it is a very valuable book, its often technical language may make it less interesting to non-specialists. 

Navin G. Haider Ali
Haider Ali, Navin. '"English abstract of 'The Historical Quarters of Karachi'". Translated by Niki Akhavan. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi, 50. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Muslim Civilisations Abstracts - The Aga Khan University
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