Confining Contingency
The self-contained designation ‘nation-state’ as a discrete field of knowledge and its use as an analytical framework to study architectural history requires critical revision. This paper suggests that instead of exclusively focusing on the nation-state as the geopolitical and temporal limit of historical subjects, we may examine new concepts, such as ‘boundary’ and ‘flows’. These two concepts provide new perspectives on the developments, negotiations, and conflicts in identity politics that have shaped architecture and urban spaces, but do not adhere to the normative ideologies and structures of the nation-state or of nationalism. Defining ‘boundary’ and ‘flow’ can also shed new light on how we imagine relationships between the nation, self, cities, and architecture. This essay focuses on the contemporary debate over the abandoned Indian house of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, one of the founders of Pakistan and its first governor-general, and discusses how architecture mediates the creation and deployment of boundaries and boundedness to enable, obstruct, accumulate, and control flows. Jinnah left his house when he moved to the newly created Pakistan, but he never ceased to believe that one day he would return to it and his hometown, which now stands in a ‘foreign’ country. South Court, as his house is popularly known, sparked new controversy when Hindu nationalists demanded to demolish it. As the debate over South Court still unfolds, it provokes an effort to revisit the normative relationship between self and identity as they emerge on a personal and transnational scale.

Keywords: Muhammad Ali Jinnah; boundary; citizenship; flows; self; subjectivity
Karim, Farhan. "Confining Contingency." pp. 263-280