Project Type
Small grant projects
Our Projects

Embracing Social Identities

Multimodal pedagogical resources exploring the gender minorities in Pakistan. Encompassing three main themes: an introduction to the communities through their lens, social history of injustice, and legal history of advancement.

The aim of the project is to tell stories of these communities’ culture, social integration, and violent history in collaboration with its members in the content creation and delivery. These communities have been historically subjugated, abused, and neglected as the state and society has brazenly legitimized systematic oppression. We attempt to document the history of this abuse and the resistance to it from within the communities, while honouring their rich culture of joy and perseverance. We have collected audio histories, documented their daily lives, and given them the reigns to express academically and honestly in different mediums of their choosing.

In accordance with the EdJAM Transitional Justice and Memory theme, we aim to raise awareness about the human rights violations that have been suffered by these communities for decades. Through community participation in the project, we hope to return control of the mainstream narratives surrounding them.

This is also an attempt at restitution since the history of these communities predominantly excludes their own narrative. Using their experiences to centre the narrative creates the possibility of a new kind of archive and memory for the future. By charting the legal history, we aim to examine the role of formal legal procedures in first neglecting their rights and then the gradual move towards protecting them. In addition, our project aims to counter the existing culture of imposing gender majoritarian interpretations of their stories and experiences to correct the general perceptions.

For the EdJAM theme of History Education and Classrooms, we will employ multimedia resources that can be used to provide a comprehensive summary of the history of these communities. In an extension of traditional gender theory and the work of authors such as Shahnaz Khan and Joan Scott, we create a conceptual model that challenge the idea of a monolithic “transgender” community within Pakistan. Instead, we redefine these according to the theories of identity adopted by various subsections of gender minorities all across Pakistan. These will be accompanied with teaching guides that incorporate different teaching strategies and ethical instructions to approach this issue in a sensitive and holistic manner across higher education classrooms.

For the EdJAM theme of Heritage Education and Everyday Lives, we will document everyday memory making and history through videos that intimately represent the community. Using social media platforms e.g., YouTube, we hope to create a repository of their histories that can be accessed by a broader audience on a regular basis.

Main aims:

The project aims to benefit gender minorities in Pakistan by setting a precedent of embracing diverse social identities and honouring their history and culture. In addition, the project will benefit educationists since it will curate content for them to use in classrooms which is easily consumable for students.  It will also benefit the public at large since they will be able to gain awareness by:

  • Documenting the history and culture of  various gender minority communities through rigorous data collection.
  • Using these case studies to develop video resources that can be distributed through YouTube to raise awareness.
  • Encouraging participation of the members of this community in content creation and content delivery.
  • Correcting commonly held misconceptions about the community.
  • Extending gender theory conceptual models in collaboration with community members.
  • Creating an archive that can be used to preserve the history and experiences of this community.

A YouTube channel that comprises of approximately six ten-minute awareness videos. These videos will include audio and video excerpts from recorded interviews, recorded footage of everyday lives in these communities, and footage of important sites, practices, and celebrations. We aim to produce 2 additional videos as classroom resources that can help educationists incorporate the history of gender minorities into the syllabus.

In addition, we will be compiling case studies that can serve as supplementary teaching resources for undergraduate classroom environments. The data collected will be collated in the form of a research article exploring the gender and legal aspects of these communities.

In the second phase of our project, community experts will be brought on board to develop K12 literary resources that create counterfactual narratives wherein these communities and their subcultures are well integrated into mainstream society. As works of fiction, these short stories will feature characters and stories from the myths and realized histories of these communities to introduce cultural elements that have been repressed in the favour of binary gender formulations and cultures.

Our main organizational partners are HOPE Foundation and Aurat March. These two organizations have demonstrated a sustained effort towards safeguarding gender minority rights, providing protection, and they include members of the community in higher management. These organizations will help us ensure involvement of this community throughout the duration of the project.

"Under the fabric of mainstream society, communities have been formed to provide the joy and hope missing from the systems and families that have forsaken anyone who does not follow our rules of gender, identity, and expression."


Under the ambit of our project, Embracing Social Identities, we created a multimodal pedagogical toolkit exploring the relationship between power, gender, and violence. Our work was informed by an extensive ethnographic project comprising 30+ hours of interviews with gender minority communities in Pakistan. Guided by the ethos of the co-production of indigenous knowledge and empowering participatory methodologies, we explore the following issues:

  • Power and its manifestations in everyday life
  • Gender governance, operationalisation, and analysis
  • Indigenous knowledge and post-colonialism
  • The everyday lives of gender minority communities in Pakistan, including but not limited to the Khwaja Sira

At the heart of this project was an exploration of how power has been abused in everyday lives and through larger social structures to marginalise gender minorities in Pakistan, with a focus on power dynamics that have enabled past violence and injustice. We explore the manifestations, dynamics, and roots of this violence through a variety of pedagogical tools to help us learn, talk, and teach about past violence and colonial legacies.

We have worked with a team comprised of advocates, activists, academics, and artists from vulnerable groups to create the following outputs:

  • The Looking Glass: A 6-episode docuseries with animation and live-action footage that explores the presentations of power and gender in different social spheres in Pakistan.
  • Curricular resource pack: A learning and teaching toolkit that documents the primary research undertaken in this project, the underlying conceptual framework, and existing literature to guide educational explorations of these topics.
  • Short stories collection: 6 illustrated short stories exploring themes of acceptance, knowledge, language, power, gender, and histories.
  • Research symposium: A community-centric event emphasising interaction, engagement, and discourse for advocacy and promoting minority narratives.
  • Research publication: Academic publications exploring methods for decolonising ethnographic research.

Meet the team:


Fatima Afzal


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Rameen Iftikhar


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Ramsha Fatima 


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Dr Ali Raza

Principal Investigator

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