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Hi! I am Neha, a final year undergraduate student at Habib University, Karachi - which is the first liberal arts institution in Pakistan. I'm majoring in Social Development and Policy, with an academic focus in Urban Planning and Community studies. My research work cuts across disciplines of urban design, gender studies, and public policy.
I am one of the first Pakistani students to have been invited to present my undergraduate dissertation at the 'Queer’ Asia Conference 2018: Bodies X Borders at SOAS, University of London. The third annual conference of Queer Asia is being held at SOAS, by the School of Languages, Cultures, and Linguistics in collaboration with the British Museum.
Queer Asia is an organization of scholars, academics, activists, and performers who encourage collaboration, dialogue, and research on multi-faceted issues affecting people who self-identify as LGBTQ+ in Asian Diasporas, and beyond. The ‘Queer’ Asia Conference 2018: Bodies X Borders aims to explore this gender group’s lived experiences, realities, and representations on themes related to migration, mobility, safe spaces, bio-politics and citizenship.
ABOUT THE PAPER:
My undergraduate dissertation is an extension of a small research I undertook for a course called Public Policy in fall 2017, in which I critically explored the gender mainstreaming discourses in transportation mobility, both locally and globally. Diverging from the mainstream gender 'women' that for the longest time has monopolized the scholarship on gendered mobilities, I set out to explore and identify the different forms of experiences and struggles faced by non-conforming genders in their daily mobility within the urban landscape. Since then I have been committed to my research on gender equality, mobility ease, and queer rights and have engaged with various forums to further my depth of the subject and absorb various perspectives into my final dissertation. Last year, I presented a preliminary research on my thesis at the 5th International Conference on Sustainable Development in Rome, Italy. I proudly represented my university as well as my country as not only the first Pakistani participant in the conference’s history but also the only undergraduate presenter amidst 200 PhD candidates from around the world. Owing to the quality of my research, the committee published my research in the European Journal of Sustainable Development.
My thesis titled “Exploring Trans (gender) Individuals' Subjective Experiences of Transit and Transit Spaces," aims to:
- Explore the mobility challenges faced by transgender individuals in Karachi’s gender-dichotomous public transport infrastructures
- Contrast their empirical needs and experiences in transit spaces with the shortcomings in national/regional transport policy and plans
- Highlight their “invisibility” and "erasure” in major policy papers on public transport and urban mobility, despite being part of the politico-cultural landscape
- Contribute to existing scholarship on transport and mobility studies which remains dominated by women, and as such empirically fails to account for the realities of non-conforming genders
- Propose informed, responsive, inclusive and reflexive policies on their struggles, experiences and needs in transit services
MOTIVATION TO ATTEND CONFERENCE:
This is a topic largely underrepresented in scholarly literature and policy dialogue not only in developing countries such as Pakistan, but also in Western discourses. By attending this conference, I wish to explore multiple avenues through which I can further my research and interest in mobility and gender studies while also simultaneously making a remarkable contribution to the field.
I wish to aptly utilize this forum to network with potential research supervisors who would be interested in collaborating with me on relevant research projects and proposals in the future. Sharing my undergraduate thesis with a wide network of people coming from various geographical locations and academic backgrounds will be an enriching learning experience. The feedback I receive from other participants, and the panel of academic scholars, who are proficient in gender/queer studies, will help me critically evaluate my research methodologies and improve upon them. It is vital for me to take on this exposure as I hope to continue to expand on the same research question for my postgraduate thesis in future.
I cannot afford to pay for the conference and its expenditure. However, I do not wish to skip on this opportunity due to monetary constraints, as it would be highly unfair to my academic work and the final policy paper that I aim to release on gender mobility. My paper has been selected via a very competitive, peer-reviewed process whereby it stood out as one of the very few undergraduate proposals of the highest quality and relevance.
While the conference doesn’t charge any registration fee, I need funds to cover my mobility, accommodation, and utility expenses for the duration of this conference trip. I am requesting a total amount of $1500 to attend the conference in London, UK. The cost breakdown is given below:
- Round-trip Airfare*: $1000
- Airbnb Lodging*: $375
- UK Standard Visitor Visa: $125
Total Cost: $1500
*All flight and accommodation costs are estimated to adjust the exchange rate and flight/Airbnb costs over time.
I really wish to visit SOAS, and London as it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! Therefore, contributions of any amount would be of huge financial help. If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me at:
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