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Social Exclusion and Marginalization

Social exclusion and marginalization is a theme that transcends all other areas of research. Human development outcomes often reflect the exclusion of disadvantaged groups, markets and economic institutions reproduce social inequalities and political systems can both restrain and empower marginalized voices.

Although exclusion and marginalization are often interchangeable, it’s worth noting a slight distinction. Marginalization refers to the set of processes through which some individuals and groups face systematic disadvantages in their interactions with dominant social, political and economic institutions. The disadvantages arise from class status, social group identity (kinship, ethnicity, caste and race), political affiliation, gender, age and disability.

Exclusion, when not synonymous with marginalization, describes the outcomes of marginalization. Examples of this include political under-representation, poor access to legal systems and a denial of public services.

This research cluster advances existing knowledge about social exclusion and marginality, raises the salience of these issues in policy and political debate and promotes more grounded perspectives on change agents.

Projects and Papers

Ethnic Federalism in Pakistan
Research Paper | Principal Investigator: Maryam S. Khan
Region-based political groups in Pakistan have historically mobilized for political power largely around ethnic and linguistic identities. Curiously, despite the fact that ethnic conflict over regional autonomy has centered on the design and structure of federal power-sharing arrangements, there is little acknowledgment in the larger discourse of the use of federal structures by the state to marginalize, or conversely amplify the dominance of, certain regional and sub-regional groups. In a law journal article published in the Harvard Journal on Racial and Ethnic Justice, Research Fellow Maryam S. Khan takes a distinct approach based on federal design to explain the phenomena of ethnicity-based politics and conflict in Pakistan through a case study of Sindhi-Muhajir relations and the rise of Muhajir nationalism in the 1970s.
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Genesis and Evolution of Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court of Pakistan
Research Paper | Principal Investigator: Maryam S. Khan
Accounts of judicial activism or the "judicialization of politics" in Pakistan are narrowly focused on the recent 'Lawyers' Movement' and the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. A crucial part of the judicialization story which appears to be missing from these accounts is the gradual and cyclical expansion of the Supreme Court‘s power through the production and use of public interest litigation (known as "PIL") since its genesis in the early 1990s. In a law journal article published in the Temple International and Comparative Law Journal, Research Fellow Maryam S. Khan attempts to historicize the Supreme Court's activism through a combined qualitative and quantitative study of the evolution of PIL over a quarter-century. The study demonstrates that, in transitional societies like Pakistan, the determinants of judicial power are embedded in structural factors that provide an enabling environment for legitimacy-starved judicial actors and the professional and lay denizens of the law courts to cyclically assert ascendancy, even hegemony, over the political process.
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