Bloomsbury Pakistan is a research resource centre. It generates intellectual capital for public discourse in Pakistan by creating an organic link between production of debates in Bloomsbury’s home in London and its dissemination into the public sphere of Pakistan. Additionally, it has been influencing British perspectives on Pakistan since it was founded by a group of academics working on Pakistan at Oxford in 2000, it relocated to Bloomsbury, London in 2006.
Bloomsbury Pakistan regularly convenes to discuss academic research on Pakistan, organises public lectures, and also publishes book reviews and discussion reports. Academic rigour has been a distinctive feature of Bloomsbury, as evinced by the content and quality of seminars convened and the reports published as well as by the distinguished reputations of those participating. Today, Bloomsbury Pakistan represents one of the largest networks of intelligentsia working on Pakistan, including academics, writers, editors, journalists and activists.
In 2000, a group of Pakistani postgraduate scholars, specialising in the social sciences, launched the Oxford University Pakistan Discussion Forum. The Forum quickly became a focal point for important debates on South Asian politics, especially in the aftermath of 9/11 and the US invasion of Afghanistan. In subsequent years, Pakistani scholars in the forum rose in number. The forum’s activities had almost entirely relocated to London notably at SOAS and other colleges of the University of London by 2006 and came to be known as Pakistan’s Bloomsbury.
Bloomsbury Pakistan supports freedom of speech and democratic freedom in Pakistan which are critical for healthy academic and public discourse. Members of the group campaigned for the restoration of the democratic process when it was suspended in Pakistan. We contribute actively to creating awareness of threats to human rights and civil liberties in Pakistan.
The PhD scholars associated with Bloomsbury Pakistan who went back to Pakistani universities as faculty members allowed Bloomsbury to form productive associations with those universities. The visiting scholars and other intellectuals bring fresh ideas on academic and political discourse that help us to better understand Pakistan and its place in the world. Bloomsbury has served as an informal hub for UK-based doctoral scholars and academics from Pakistan, while also facilitating research by non-Pakistani academics working on Pakistan at various British universities. In addition to academics from all areas of social sciences and humanities, Bloomsbury has hosted Pakistani newspaper editors, analysts, fiction and non-fiction writers, which has broadened the base for academic discourse.
Since 2001 Bloomsbury’s phenomenal growth meant that we had to introduce a formal structure to productively channel the energies of our members. We therefore formalised the structure to facilitate a more effective contribution to the development of a progressive society in Pakistan. As in the earliest days of Bloomsbury, we believe that an important component in the effort to nurture and expand a progressive Pakistan is through public discourse, including publications, in areas and subjects that enhance and enable free and open debate on the critical issues of Pakistani society, culture, economy and politics.