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Masculinity, sexuality and ‘illegal’ migration: human smuggling from Pakistan to Europe.

Masculinity, sexuality and ‘illegal’ migration: human smuggling from Pakistan to Europe. (Link)


Second runner up for the Peace Prize awarded by the German consulate at the Oxford University Press Karachi Literature Festival in 2017. (Link)

Listed as one of five “Pakistani books every book lover must read” by The Nation in 2015. (Link)   

“Drawing on extensive ethnography and literature on psychology, desire, sexuality and masculinity, this book sheds new light on the migrant experience. Ahmad builds a brilliantly subversive critique of fashionable models of migration, debunking neoliberal optimism, transnationalism and social capitalism. A refreshingly original analysis of labour migration into the underworld of the European economy.”  

Russell King, Sussex University, UK

"Whatever direction migration studies take, the way scholars and policy makers conceive of the causes and consequences of male migration will have to include considerations about desire and sexuality. Identifying the link between sexuality, labour process and the persistence of patriarchal social relations, which this study does so brilliantly, is key to accounting for contemporary global migrations" 

Rutvica Andrijasevic, University of Bristol, UK



‘Infrastructure, Development, and Displacement in Pakistan’s “Southern Punjab”’ (2022) in Antipode 54:5 1407-1428  (Link)

“The Murder of Zafar Lund” (2021) in: Ramos et al. (eds.), Policy Matters. Special Issue on Environmental Defenders 22 (Vol. III). Gland, Switzerland: IUCN: 32-5  (Link)

‘Climate Justice and Migration: Mobility, Development, and Displacement in the Global South’ (2020) Edited by Ali Nobil Ahmad with the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Democracy Series Volume 57  (Link)


“The terms migration, flight, asylum and some others” & “Migration to, within and from Pakistan” in ‘The Oranges in Europe Taste Better: On the root causes of flight, the countermeasures - and their shortcomings (2018), a policy report on the ‘European migration crisis’ for the Heinrich Böll Foundation:   (Link) .


‘The production of illegality in migration and diaspora: state policies and human smuggling from Pakistan’ in Handbook of South Asian Diaspora eds. Joya Chatterji and David Washbrook Routledge (2013) 198-211.


‘Pakistanies en Italia: Los escencantos del “Vivir Transactional” in Revista CIDOB d’Afers. Barcelona: CIDOB (October 2010). 


‘Bodies that (don’t) matter: desire, eroticism and melancholia in Pakistani labour migration’ in Mobilities 4:3 2009, 309-327.

Abstract: (Link)


‘Dead Men Working: Time and Space in London’s ‘Illegal’ Migrant Economy’ in Work, Employment and Society 22:2, 2008, 301-318.

Abstract: (Link) 

A European migrant's home, Chot Dheeran,
“A Pakistani migrant's home, Chot Dheeran,  district Mandi Bahauddin (circa 2009)”.     
Urban refugees being interviewed in Kisenyi, Kampala, 2022. Photo by Lutaaya Dan, courtesy Heinrich Böll Foundation. 
Imran, a migrant who left for Italy at h
Imran, a Pakistani migrant at home, district Mandi Bahauddin (circa 2009)

‘Human Smuggling and Illegal labour: Pakistani migrants in London’s informal economy’ in Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 34: 6, 2008, 853-874. 

Abstract: (Link) 


‘Le malaise sexuel des migrations de travail: réflexions socio-anthropologiques sur les pakistanais en Europe’ in Migrance, 27, 2007.


‘The romantic appeal of illegal migration: gender masculinity and human smuggling from Pakistan’  (2008) in (eds) M.Schrover, J.Leun, L.Lucassen, C.Quispel, Illegal Migration and Gender in Global and Historical Perspective, Amsterdam University Press. Read: (Link)  


‘Critical approaches to the study of masculinity: Gender and generation in Pakistani migration’ (2008) in Ryan, L and Webster, W (eds) Gendering Migration: Masculinity, Femininity and Ethnicity in Postwar Britain, London: Ashgate. (Link)

‘The Myth of Arrival: Pakistanis in Italy’, in Pakistani Diasporas: Culture, Conflict, and Change (ed) Kalra, V. Oxford in Pakistan Readings in Sociology and Social Anthropology. OUP Karachi, 2008.


‘The British Pakistanis: Middle class narratives of migration’ in Men of the Global South: A Reader (ed) Adam Jones Zed Books (October, 2006). Read: (Link)    


‘Disaster cosmologies in comparative perspective: Islam, climate change and the 2010 floods in Pakistan’s Southern Punjab’ (2019) in Journal of Historical Sociology 32 (3) 311-330.  Abstract: (Link) 


'Conflict and Resistance in Southern Punjab: a Political Ecology of the 2010 Floods' (2018) in Pakistan. In Rachel Bahn, Eckart Woertz, Rami Zurayk (Eds): Crisis and Conflict in Agriculture. Wallingford, Oxfordshire: CABI (Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International), pp. 190–202.


‘Perspectives on Ecology from India and Pakistan’ [edited with Hasan Karrar] Capitalism, Nature, Socialism (2015) 26 (3)  Abstract: (Link) 

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Activists and villagers condemn the building of a coal plant at a People’s Tribunal in Muzaffargarh  district, Southern Punjab (Photo by Ali Nobil Ahmad, 2016)

Miners in Swat being interviewed about the Taliban’s 2007-8 takeover (2016).
A power plant thought to be responsible
A power plant thought to be responsible for pollution and ill health among nearby populations. Muzaffargarh district, Pakistan 2016.

Introduction to Special Issue on Capitalism, Nature, Socialism in South Asia [with Hasan Karrar] (2015) Capitalism, Nature, Socialism 26 (3) (44-7).

Abstract: (Link) 


“Disaster governance at the urban-rural interface: the 2010 floods in Pakistanʼs smaller cities” (2016) ZMO Working Paper No 15:  PDF: (Link)


 “(Re)valuing natural resources in the Middle East, Africa and Asia” (2016) (with Katharina Lange, Ali Nobil Ahmad, Jeanine Dağyeli, Erdem Evren, Patrick Schukalla, Juliane Schumacher, Steven Serels) ZMO Programmatic Paper No. 11: PDF: (Link)

FILM AND MEDIA – Edited and co-edited books/special issues

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Film and Cinephilia in Pakistan (with Ali Khan) 2020 Oxford University Press, Karachi: (Link)

Film and Cinephilia in Pakistan is a brilliant book of impressive depth and range. Well-written, with a superb introduction, and filled to the brim with theoretical and historical insights, it constitutes a field-defining intervention into Pakistani cinema studies. An absolute must-read for film scholars, media theorists, and anyone interested in modern South Asia.

Ulka Anjaria, Associate Professor of English, Brandeis University


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Cinema and Society: Film and social change in Pakistan (with Ali Khan) 2016 Oxford University Press, Karachi. (Link)

Reviewed in the Times literary Supplement (2017): (Link)


Cinema in Muslim Societies (2015) Routledge, London and New York. (Link)

‘Cinema in Muslim Societies’ (2010) Third Text February104, Special Issue (Link)

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‘Explorations into Pakistani Cinema’ dossier section in Screen (2016) 57 (4) (LInk)

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‘Pakistani Cinema’ Bioscope 5(2) (2014) co-edited with Ali Khan.



Introduction, ‘Explorations into Pakistani Cinema’ dossier section in Screen (2016) 57 (4): 468-79. Abstract (Link)

Introduction, “Cinema and Society: Film and Social Change in Pakistan” in ‘Cinema and Society: a History of the Pakistani film industry’ (co-edited with Ali Khan) OUP Karachi. pp 3-25.


“New Cinema from Pakistan: Film, Technology and Media in Transition” in ‘Cinema and Society: a History of the Pakistani film industry’ (co-edited with Ali Khan) OUP Karachi. pp 343-372.


“Fascism and Real Estate: An Inquiry into the Strange Death of Traditional Cinema Halls” in ‘Cinema and Society: a History of the Pakistani film industry’ (co-edited with Ali Khan) OUP Karachi. pp 307- 328.


“Film and Cinephilia in Pakistan: Beyond Life and Death” (2014) Bioscope 5(2): 81-98. Abstract (Link)  


“Qalam Ki Badmashi: Journalism, Corruption And The Informal Economy In Pakistani Media” (2011) Urban Anthropology February 40: 3-4, special issue on the Informal Economy (pp: 445-493). Abstract (Link) 


"Is Twitter a Useful Tool for Journalists?" in Journal of Media Practice, Volume 11 (2) Spring Issue 2010. Abstract (Link) 


"Is there a Muslim World?"(2010) in Third Text (Issue 104) 'Cinema in Muslim Societies' Read (Link


"From Zinda Laash to Zibahkhana: horror and violence in Pakistani cinema" (2010) [co- authored with Ali Khan] in Third Text (Issue 104) Abstract (Link) 




‘Pakistani Film’ by Sadaat Manto (Introduced, annotated and translated) (2014) in Bioscope 5(2) 163-66. Abstract (Link)


‘Filmmaking and Building Pakistan’ by Hasan Askari (Introduced, annotated, translated) (2014) in Bioscope 5 (2): 175-81. Abstract (Link).  


‘Colour in Film: Why, To What End?’ by Hasan Askari (Introduced, annotated, translated) (2014) Bioscope 5(2) 167-173. Abstract: (Link)  

Interview with Sabiha Sumar (2014) in Bioscope 5 (2) 153-62. Abstract (Link) 


‘Women’s Cinema, from Tangiers to Tehran’ (2008) in Third Text 22:4 pp501-14 Read (Link)  


‘Whose Underground? Asian Cool and the Poverty of "Hybridity"' in Third Text: Critical Perspectives on Contemporary Art and Culture (54) Spring 2001 pp 71-84. Abstract (Link)  


'Monica Ali’s Brick Lane: A Note on the Politics of ‘Good’ Literary Production in Third Text: Critical Perspectives on Contemporary Art and Culture (67) volume 18 (issue 2) March 2004 199-201. Read (Link) 


Abdullah Hussein’s Émigré Journeys (2001) in Wasifiri International Magazine of Contemporary Writing (33) Spring.




‘Conspiracy and Statecraft in Post-colonial States: theories and realities of the hidden hand in Pakistan’s War on Terror’ (2015) Third World Quarterly 36(1) pp94-110.[co-authored with Aasim Sajjad Akhtar]    Abstract (Link)  


Encyclopedia of US Imperialism (2015, ABC CLIO,) Entries on IMF/World Bank, Sustainable Development, Military Industrial Complex, Private Security Contractors, US Military Bases.

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