The AFA is pleased to announce the 2018 Sylvia Forman Award for an Outstanding Graduate Paper to Maira Hayat, for her paper, “The Gender of Corruption: Bureaucrats, Bodies and the Female Complaint – Notes from an Irrigation bureaucracy in Pakistan,” advisor William Mazzarella (University of Chicago).
Hayat uses mahawl (atmosphere in Urdu) and ‘the female complaint’ as two axes along which to examine corruption in the Irrigation department in Pakistan’s Punjab province, the country’s most populous province and also its agricultural heartland. Together, these provide instruction in the ever-shifting contours of the public-private distinction, the gendering of the bureaucratic everyday, and the devaluation of work as lived by bureaucrats in an era of e-governance. This is not the corruption of small or scandalous bribes, of funds embezzled, of cheating, of the seeping of the private into public roles, and perversion of the ‘rule of law.’ Instead, Hayat examines the ethical labor of resisting corruption, the porosity of the female body and its gradual inhabiting by a male surround, and the changing valuations of work in a government bureaucracy. The paper draws upon literature on Islam, ethics, gender, and the body and engages the work of scholars who have contributed greatly to feminist scholarship (in particular, Gal, Mahmood, Brown, and Butler).