Assignment: Reading Review

“Since Max Weber, it is customary to view modern life as disenchanted, freed of gods and myth. but what was colonial Bombay if not enchanted? The physical, social, and political geography forged by colonization in the double sense became its “natural” landscape. To its inhabitants, the city looked, felt and smelled like a new environment. it was different from the towns and urban life that most immigrants had encountered elsewhere. The modern city’s infrastructure, technology, institutions, neighborhoods, society and daily life presented a novel sight and experience. The newness of its second nature, the everyday reality that its institutions and the built environment had forged, became objects of wonder and reflection. Bombay’s rapidly changing visual landscape fostered a form of urban writing that described the city in terms of images.”

Source: Urban Pictures, Chapter 2 The Colonial Gothic, Mumbai Fables by Gayan Prakash

In support of the passage above, I would first like to share the following pictures in order to portray the idea of colonial Bombay.

1940_muriel_collett_national_games_bombay_2nd_left-2 bf6798a6-85e1-4788-a696-2b24a525caa4old_glory_bombay_28 BOMBAY_C_1890 breakfast1858 ca3a6264-e47a-4ddb-a4a3-267a55cf6a2dOld_Mumbai_Apollo_Bunder ca4ded44-6475-4095-a659-eca042003524Old_Mumbai_Walkeshwar_Road cad92c87-864b-4215-a6f9-03fa87c9bf269058747 ea869dcf-1889-4826-8e88-35472d7d91b8188863590_bebc7df406_o f803e05e-a16c-4671-8565-6586a3af5fa2Old_Mumbai_Cuff_Parade mumbai_train_1940

images source: Rare old Mumbai pictures:

Now I will post pictures of the present transformation of Bombay into Aamchi Mumbai:

Through the images above, I have tried to capture the comparison of colonial Bombay and the present Aamchi Mumbai. In light of, what Gayan Prakash has highlighted colonial Bombay as the city of enchantment, we observe a somewhat gradual-radical decline in its quality of life. I would particularly like to refer to Salman Rushdie, whose description of Mumbai in his novels as a lived space is a mixture of nostalgia, alienation and misery of aesthetics.

In modern day Mumbai, people seem to be deprived of their sense of belonging to home. As a busy metropolitan the city only serves as a clinging point where people pause and move forward. Their food, shelter and clothing, everything depicts shabbiness for a majority of middle and lower middle class citizenry. People are living in imaginary homelands.


Assignment 1

Orientalism (Edward W.Said)

In this reading, the author discusses the concept of Orient and Orientalism. Orient is countries of East and East Asia and is a term created by the Europeans. The article furthermore discusses that the creation of the term Orient not only differentiated the East from the West but also created the image of ‘the other’.
The author however, tackles the explanation of the term in a very different way and explains the three different meanings of Orientalism. The explanation he has derived of the term includes the literal meaning, the social meaning and the psychological meaning. He goes into great detail by explaining the effects of separating the East and the West and labeling them into Orient and Occident.
Orientalism as explained by Edward Said is simply and academic term and anyone who teaches, writes or researches the Orients is an Orientalist. However, in an effort to study the Orient, the Occident’s created them as ‘the other’ and the Orients were studied as exotic beings, whereas the countries themselves became places of remarkable experiences.
He further elaborated that Orientalism is a style of thought made upon the distinction between the Orient and the Occident.
These distinctions further became starting points for theories, social descriptions, study of the culture and assumptions on the mindset of the Orients. In Said’s view, the Orient is turned into a Western representation of the Orient
However, as stated in the article, in the 18th century Orientalism became a corporate instituition of dealing with the Orient and was used as a way to dominate the East, reconstruct it and stereotype it. But most importantly, it became a way to dominate the Orient and highlight the areas they were different at from the Occident. Therefore the Europeon culture gained strength by projecting the image of the Orient as inferior.
The idea of the Orientalism and the Orient furthermore, has become a way a manipulating the East and East Asia.
I agree with the discussion the author has presented because just by creating the Orient, the world instantly gets divided into two halves. The division however is unequal and it is the Occident who has created the inequality by treating the East as subjects. For instance in the study of psychology the behavior and habitat of animals was studied to understand how humans could possibly react to different stimuli. The West similarly has bought down the East to that level. They study the Orient and experiment on them as well as devise ways to restrain and reconstruct the way they live.
This may be because the East is a place for Europe’s oldest colonies and they still consider themselves the rulers of the Orient. However, the impact of colonial rule in the history of the East is so deeply embedded in the roots of the Orient that they have accepted themselves to be inferior.
Orientalism can be seen in many Hollywood movies and dramas where Chinese and Japenese women are shown to dress in a certain way. And when they enter the scene, a particular kind of music that is linked to these nations is played in the background. However, in reality the Orient or ‘the other’ that the West have created are different from the perceived image created by the Orientals.

– Fatima Niazi

Final paper

Rio de Janeiro and the class divide

By Fatima Niazi

When one thinks of Brazil, what images appear in one’s mind? After speaking to numerous Karachiites who can afford to travel, the answer derived was that Brazil is a desired vacation spot. The mere mention of Brazil brings to mind images of beaches, forests, colourful parrots and parades. Men on the other hand imagine it as a hub of gorgeous women with perfect bodies or as a nation that has a spectacular football team with famous players like Ricardo Kaka, Neymar and Ronaldinho. The overall consensus is; Brazil is an exotic land of beauty, talent and celebrations.

Amongst the many cities in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is the most famous amongst tourists.  Rio was once the capital of the country and one could say it is the Karachi or New York of Brazil. ‘It is known as the “Carnival Capital of the World” with the biggest celebrations and parades. Celebrations take place in cities across the whole country but Rio locals proudly describe the Rio Carnival as “the greatest show on Earth.”’ [1]

For many tourists, Rio is the representative city of Brazil and a visit is a must. From what we know of Rio, it is a land oozing with glamour, extravagance and splendour. At least that’s what the media presents it to be.  However, the experience of those living in Rio, especially the poor, is completely different from that of the tourist. The information the mass media deprives people of is that Brazil is still a developing country and cities like Rio have many problems that the State tries to cover up.


Brazilians, pictured at carnival in Rio. [2]

“Brazil continues to be one of the most economically unequal countries in the world with the top 10 percent of the population earning 50 percent of the national income, while about 34 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. 14% is the percentage of women employed as maids while many others are restricted to ‘typically female’ occupations such as nurses and secretaries. According to the statistics, 35,000 is the number of young people who die each year from firearms in Brazil. In 2012 Brazil forced nearly 1.4 million children to work, according to official figures released on the World Day Against Child Labour, June 12. It counts 304,415 children between 5-10 years (9.9%) and 755,973 children between 11-14 years (36.6%); while overall, there are some of 1.4 million Brazilian children ranging in age from 5 to 14 in the labour market.” [3]

These statistics don’t paint such a pretty picture do they? Behind the image of beauty and extravagance that Brazil has created, lie dark neighbourhoods drenched in poverty. For the poor, life is a perfect dystopia.

When thinking of the famous travel destination Rio di Janeiro, images of its famous Copacabana beach come to mind. The city is known for its scenery, upbeat lifestyle, beautiful beaches, rain forested hills and its parades. However, Rio as a city is also one of the finest examples of monetary disparity that exist in an urban modern city.

‘It is a place of strong contrasts between the rich and the poor and reflects a high degree of social inequality where one third of the people live in districts of self-built homes called favelas. The gap between the richest and the poorest and their close geographic proximity are characteristic features of Rio.’ [4]

In fact the distance between the urbanized Gávea and the favelas (a Portuguese word for slums) is only a few kilometres. Gávea is the pride of Rio as it stands tall with mansions, restaurants, clubs, art galleries, malls and numerous other places for the elite class. The residents of this area are well educated and affluent. They are also blessed with luxuries such as cars, branded accessories, fine dining, clubbing, spacious homes etc.

While on the other side are the favelas (slums) where poverty is on the rise and the residents are deprived of basic necessities such as food, clothing and electricity. For those living in favelas, even the thought of attaining ‘wants’ seems like a far-fetched dream.  It is due to the close proximity between the two opposite sides that leads to a high rate of crime, drug trafficking, police corruption, as well as deficiencies in health and violence in Rio.

Rio for the rich

As time passes, the rich in Rio continue to get richer while the poor continue to suffer. The richest 10 percent own 46 percent of the wealth and they spend that money by living a lavish lifestyle. Some of the well developed areas and neighbourhoods where the rich reside in Rio are Copacabana, Gavea, Barra da Tijuca.

“Areas such as Copacabana, Ipanema, have an up-beat feel. Copacabana shares its name with the beach in front of this famous city and has a huge mixture of people with different backgrounds and pay packets. At 25,000 people per square metre, it also has one of the highest population densities in the world. With space at a premium, rich residents live in high-rise apartment blocks that line the beachfront.

Then there is the town within Rio called Barra da Tijuca nicknamed, the ‘Brazilian California’, where 130,000 people live. Barra da Tijuca has wide avenues and roads, large spacious condominium complexes, South America’s largest convention centre called Riocentro, five kilometre strip of shops and entertainment facilities. The particular town also has five theme parks, 21 nightclubs ‘Barrashopping’, the largest shopping mall with over 650 shops and apartments, offices, restaurants, cinemas and even its own monorail.” [5]

The lives of the rich in Rio are furthermore, deliberated in the following article written in 2012. The article discusses a reality TV show called ‘Made in Rio’ that looks into the lifestyle of the millionaires of the city.  The concept of the show is to present ‘the five women who have problems with everything – except money.’ One of these women revealed having rented a Ferrari for her husband and taking a bath in mineral water on a regular basis while another woman was seen buying a £10million private jet with gold fittings.

Link: FkPI

‘Every year during the ‘Rio Carnival’ at least $3 million are spent on outfits and preparations. There are more than 2 million people on the streets everyday during the carnival, which has become an event of huge proportions and is the most famous holiday in Brazil.’ [6]

Here are some images of the life of the rich in Rio. The pictures are of carnivals and some everyday settings:

A0      carnival

f7a3e5ec-eb77-424d-9b78-6af878cf573c.Brazil-riodejaneiro-carnivalparade    sapucai

rio-de-janeiro_1     rio-surfing-copacabana-by-fabiola-bezerra


Unfortunately, the life of Rio that is promoted in the media is the lifestyle of the rich. The state has managed to hide away the poverty from the view of the tourists who now see the favelas merely as a tourist site. Towns like Barra da Tijuca and Gavea are developed as well as beautiful and give the impression of a world class city. The poor have been shifted to the other end of the city like sweeping dust under a rug. According to Gyan Prakash in Noir Urbanism, this habit of sweeping aside poverty is common in many cities of the developing countries. It’s stated in the book, “Urbanists write about fortified “privatopias” erected by the privileged to wall themselves off from the imagined resentment and violence of the multitude. Instead of freedom, the unprecedented urbanization of poverty seems to promise only division and conflict.” (1)

Further visual cleansing of Rio was done during the FIFA World Cup 2014 when favelas were torn down to make space for the stadium and large number of tourists that would visit the city for the sports event.

According to an article from The Guardian, “There is a process of gentrification taking place in the whole city that is connected to the sports events and how the government sees the city: it is no longer a place for residents, but as a business to sell to foreign investors. That’s what the World Cup is about,” said Renata Neder of Amnesty.[7]

This cleansing was done because Rio is seen as an exotic land of enjoyment and an example of this representation can be seen in the song ‘To Brazil’. Released in 1997 by the Vengaboys, the video of the song shows women of different nationalities on the beaches of Rio. The Brazilians in the video are dancing and having the time of their lives. It is the perfect holiday celebration scenario. The last two seconds of the video shows a scene from one of the favelas but it has very few details. Hence, the audience fails to pay attention to it and focuses instead on the luxuriousness of Brazil shown in the rest of the video.

We can’t entirely blame the directors for the content of the video because after all, whatever they have showed does happen in some parts of Brazil. The state takes great pride in their parades and celebrations. However, it is due to such biased representations by the media that those suffering in poverty are overshadowed with the utopian lifestyle image that Rio offers.

Watch the video here:


Rio for the poor

Those who dwell in Rio and don’t earn well have no choice but to shift to the favelas; Brazilian shacks or shanty towns (slums within urban areas).

According to a report on the class differences in Rio by the Royal Geographical society, ‘Forty years ago, people began to pour in from poorer parts of Brazil to take advantage of the new job opportunities in Rio’s factories and shops. But the city faced a massive housing shortage as there was not enough land to build new houses. Poorer families had to find a place to live in one of the city’s favelas. These neighbourhoods illegally occupy land on hillsides and ravines.’[8]


WordPress [9] :

Rio is a good example of how the dream for a perfect urban city can turn out to be a nightmare for many. Today, up to a third of the city’s residents live in favelas, and more than 600 of them are scattered across the city with populations varying from a few dozen to thousands of people. The favelas can be found in two main areas of Rio – along the hillsides, and along the outer fringes of urban expansion.

‘In Rio’s favelas, most homes are made from brick and cement, a majority does not have running water and about 99 percent don’t have electricity. Sanitation is often a big problem – in Rocinha sewage flows down a large channel in the middle of houses.’[10]

“All favelas have a low standard of living and are limited in their access to utilities. Clean water is available only at the bottom of the hills, making access for those at the top extremely difficult and only 50 percent of the people have a toilet inside the house. Sewage runs through open drains collecting at the bottom of the hill creating a real health hazard, while electricity is scarce limiting the small, local industries and making life very hard work. Goods are often far more expensive in the favela than in other parts of the city, hence the residents purchase far smaller amounts and buy, where possible, on credit.” [11]

The poor residing in the favelas of Rio are also considered a source of urban problems and are blamed for the high crime rate by the State and those residing in urbanized towns. Favelas are also considered areas that ruin the view and the modernity of the city. This is why before the FIFA World Cup of 2014, thousands of families living in Favelas were displaced for redevelopments in spite of protests and resistance. Favela do Metrô near the Maracanã Stadium, that previously housed 700 families in 2010 was completely destroyed as a result.

Favela in Rio de Janeiro

A favela in Rio de Janeiro, which will host seven games followed by the Olympics in 2016. Photograph: Image Broker/Rex Features

According to a statement from The Guardian, the poor from the favelas lost their homes. “People are being moved more than 40km [25 miles] from their homes without prior notice and no compensation.

“The authorities wouldn’t even enter our community in the past and there was no mention of moving us, but then Brazil won the right to host the World Cup and everything changed,” Maria do Socorro said at a hearing in the city council building. Socorro’s home of 40 years in the Indiana favela was one of those marked for demolition.[12]

While some see favelas as a negative space, others view it as a means of earning capital since it provides many businessmen with cheap labour.  The book Noir Urbanism by Gyan Prakash best describes the situation of Rio where it states, “Monstrous megacities do not promise the pleasures of urbanity but the misery and strife of the Hobbesian jungle.”

Following are the images of favelas:

 2fee7047-8a3f-4d8c-b29e-add4ca7c8c3e-620x372  0507_santamarta_630x420

poverty-Brazil  rio-de-janeiro-favela-da-rocinha-slum-photo-by-n-cabana (1)

Favela     clip_image001clip_image002

City of God; media representation of the poverty in Rio

Numerous articles that state statistics of the poverty in Brazil have appeared in newspapers and blogs but the image of the extravagant lifestyle of Brazil still exists for many of us. However, movies like City of God provide an in depth look into the life of the residents of favelas.

City of God is a 2002 Brazilian crime drama film directed by Fernando Meirelles and co-directed by Kátia Lund. The story was adapted by Bráulio Mantovani from the 1997 novel of the same name written by Paulo Lins, but the plot is loosely based on real events. It depicts the growth of organized crime in the Cidade de Deus suburb of Rio de Janeiro, between the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1980.

The movie takes place in slums constructed by Rio to isolate the poor from the city centre. However, this is a place where the law is absent and violent gangs rule the streets and anyone who wants some status in the favela has to join a criminal gang. The story is about Wilson Rodriguez, a Brazilian photographer who lives in the same favela, but finds a different way to earn money. He starts photographing the criminal activities that take place in the area and sells them to a newspaper for a specific amount. Eventually his continuous contributions get him hired as an official photographer for the newspaper. The movie follows his life as he tries to earn an honest living while residing in a favela flooded with criminal activities.

The movie depicts favelas as they are in Rio, with congested alleys, broken roads, small houses, trash scattered on the road, paint peeling off the walls of the houses and old worn out furniture within the homes. There is no electricity, paved streets or transportation. The residents of the favelas are shown to be wearing ragged clothes and many kids are seen running around barefooted. It is due to this poverty that the kids in the movie join gangs, do drugs and conduct criminal activities such as robberies and murders at a young age.

At the beginning of the movie a group of teens rob a motel and kill five people without any remorse. The movie clearly portrays the hatred the poor kids have for the rich and they feel entitled to snatching away the wealth using any means. The following dialogue from the movie explains their state of mind, “Let’s rob a rich guy’s house. That is the only way we can get out of here.”

On the other hand, the children who do not want to get involved in criminal activities discuss taking up jobs such as fishmongers or lifeguards when they grow up. Their lack of ambition for better job opportunities clearly states that these children are deprived of education, opportunities and role models. The movie also speaks of the great class divide and the ‘extravagant’ image of Rio that has been created in the world. This is evident from the following dialogue spoken by the narrator in the movie, “For the rich and powerful our lives didn’t matter. We are far too removed from the picture postcard image of Rio.”

This movie is important as it gives an insight into the life of the favelas, from their structure to the activities and sufferings of the residents.


What I have derived from the analysis of the two medias is that; just as Rio is divided into two parts, rich and poor, so are its representations in the media. For instance, the Vengaboys show the utopian image of the city. City of God on the other hand focuses on the suffering in the city: each medium successfully manages to represent one side of the city.

Even though, an insight into the life of the poor reveals a lot about Rio, one cannot help but notice that the content in City of God showed the negative side of Rio. This kind of depiction makes me wonder if the director of the movie is trying to gain sympathy of the viewers for his benefit. The only way a film can gain acclaim is by touching the souls of the viewers and this particular movie seems to have successfully used this tactic. The narrative and visuals also strongly reinforce the thought that the people of Rio need a saviour.

Although, the movie was enlightening, one cannot ignore the fact that those working on its production minted money because the movie turned out to be quite a successful venture. Once again poverty was used as a tool for profit.

Vengaboys on the other hand eliminated the element of sympathy from their video because the song ‘To Brazil’ is an upbeat party number. For them, portraying the splendour of Rio was profitable. Showing the suffering of the poor on the other hand, could have affected their profit as no one wants to see poverty stricken areas in a music video. More often than not, people block out the cruelty in the world in order to enjoy their lives and upbeat videos such as ‘To Brazil’ showing happy people, is a good escape for them.

After analysing both the medias, I have understood that nothing should be taken at face value. This is because each media representation has its own agenda. Just like the State of Rio highlights its parades and night life and uses it for tourism, many other mediums utilise poverty for their own purpose too.

City of God                                                                          ‘To Brazil’ Vengaboys


 city-of-god-cidade-de-deus-tanri-kent-998        maxresdefault



  • Daily Mail article ‘Made in Rio’

  • Chanel-lifestyles-rich-women-Brazils-booming-economy.html
  • Global voices article ‘35 Million Escape Poverty – But Can Brazil Overcome Inequality?’

  • ‘Social Problems in Rio de Janeiro’

  • Differences of Development in Rio de Janeiro

  • The Guardian: World Cup: Rio favelas being ‘socially cleansed’ in runup to sporting events

  • Favela life: Rio’s city within a city

  • Noir Urbanis, Gyan Prakash







[7] The Guardian: World Cup: Rio favelas being ‘socially cleansed’ in runup to sporting events





[12] The Guardian: World Cup: Rio favelas being ‘socially cleansed’ in runup to sporting events

Indian Ad: story on a Pakistani Social Media (DAWN NEWS)


Not only racism but the ad can be read in many ways.

  1. The Child Labor and the Royal avatar of the famous actress shows the binary opposition and representation of the society.
  2. The child being the sub- altern in this ad has nothing to do with the jewelry brand, so it is used as a symbol to create a difference for the ad audience.
  3. The ad has a lot in terms of who has the power and control. The elite woman is in power and the child bearing a turban and Indian ornaments (cultural artifacts) represents India’s tradition. it could be read as India has liberated the women but the class difference is still there.
  4. Utopia for one and dystopia for the other. The actress is portrayed in an utopian illusion and the child has a dystopic view of India.
  5.  The ad is capitalizing the poverty of India as well.

it is interesting to notice that Pakistani media portraying this image as a controversy played in India and troubled ad and actress in vain.

Life in a Mega city: Dhaka

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Dhaka being the tenth largest city of the world has the population of more than 15.5 million people. Dhaka was said to be the Venice of the East.

As this report (link) has a lot to say about Dhaka being the fastest growing city and at the same time is one of the poor cities of the world. Dhaka city has 5000 slum areas and majority of the population is below the poverty line. The mega technic city is still struggling to provide the basic necessities of life to its people. The availability of water and sanitation issues makes the situation worse for the majority people living in the Venice of the East.

As I was watching this particular news clip covered by the western media it is hard to decide how the city is represented. We hear multiple times that Dhaka is growing fast and is a mega city, whereas I could not find any development in the city in terms of basic necessities. The poor condition of the hospital is obvious in this report along with the health of the publics.

Other than Water supplies and sanitation Dhaka is facing transport problem. Dhaka has seen increased foreign direct investment, leading to greater volumes of trade and commerce. Its transport system is undergoing major redevelopments, with the construction of a metro system, an elevated expressway and the Hatirjheel canal and bypass project. All of this development stands to a still when we look at Dhaka where daily traffic of over 600,000 cycle rickshaws is observed. The re-development of the transport system is more of a Mega-technic giving a single solution to multiple issues.

Under pressure from the World Bank, Dhaka City Corporation announced that from December 17, 2012 it plans to ban rickshaws and non-motorized transport from an important road in Dhaka – Mirpur Road from Russell Square to Azimpur . World Bank plan would eliminate rickshaws from eight major roads (120 km) in this city.

Increasing limitations on rickshaws in Dhaka are causing untold hardship to the poorest and most vulnerable segments of society, reducing the mobility of the middle class (particularly women, children, and the elderly), and contributing to air pollution and motorization. Meanwhile, roads that have completely banned non-motorized transport are still some of the worst affected by traffic jams.

To conclude, the whole scenario and the solutions being offered are specifically for a niche. It has similarities to the Romantic Ambiguity Era where technology does well to a specific class only.

“In defense of the poor image” written by Hito Steyerl

Art is a creative

source :

“Art is a creative exercise however it should be exercised with certain responsibility.”

In defense of the poor image is an article written by Hito Steyerl who talks about how art has become the gap between the reality and its meaning, the mechanical reproduction of art has represented multiple interpretations and the essence of art in reality has lost its meaning. Technology is driven by innovations; as mechanical reproduction of any art may lose its own unique existence.

As Walter Benjamin also mentions in his article “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” that even the most perfect reproduction of a piece of art lacks one element which is time and space for example architectures that have been replicated by modern architects have not been able to replace or have been able to reproduce the original form of history. Similarly films, ripped, copied re- edited in to various forms lose their value of originality and resolution.

Karachi city: Cyberspace vs. Real space


This research examines the Karachi city in terms of its physical and digital existence.

Karachi as cyberspace is different from the real city space in many ways. The paper will disclose the differences these two places have. Though digital Karachi on cyberspace doesn’t seem to hold a real, physical place, the digital spaces still exist in relation to the real space as the members of Karachi city consume the digital space.

This research closely looks at the city through the female perspective only. Female citizens claiming and performing in city in comparison to the role they play in cyberspace. To me cyberspace is an ideal place for a woman when compared to the physical space of Karachi.


This research looks at Karachi city from different perspectives. Karachi being the largest city of Pakistan is the most dynamic in nature. This paper focuses on the perspective of female populations in Karachi only.

Viewing Karachi as a digital space and as a real space will be interesting to look at the diversities it holds. Digital space is an extension of the real city. Cyberspace or the digital space is the computer mediated environment where members can communicate. The term cyberspace has emerged with the advent of internet. It allows members by giving them the opportunity to interact and engage via sharing their ideas, views and opinions.

Since cyberspace has infinite interactive sites for its users, I would like to focus my research to the social networking site, Facebook. It was founded in February 2004. Since 2005 it caters the members worldwide but initially it was restricted to United States only. Members have to create a Facebook profile in order to become users. The age limit to join this social networking site is as low as 13 years. To closely look at the Facebook users I have used my personal account on Facebook (

The idea of cyberspace has a lot of liberty and anonymity attached to it. The cyberspace particularly Facebook offers its users to construct their profiles. This construction of identity has the freedom to choose the gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, views, and to tailor your information. It provides you the power to control your environment as you want it to be. The user has the control of adding other user in his/her list and to limit or block and user if required. The Facebook profile being the extension of real life actually becomes the tailored self of users. The user at the same time can remain anonymous if they want to. In such a place the members find it easier to communicate, interact, relate, explore and be a part of social swarms.

For the real space, I will focus on myself in relation to the city spaces I visit. Be it my home, my work place, shopping Centre, Bus stop etc. Besides, the paper will unfold how my interaction changes in these two spaces.

This research will focus on the digital presence of female Karachi user and her interaction online in contrast to her real life in Karachi city.


The research paper focuses on Karachi and looks at the city on different levels. It talks about the reality of a woman in cyberspace in comparison to the reality of a woman in real space.

The research paper carefully defines cyberspace and the real space. A cyberspace is an internet mediated environment accessed via computer. The websites created on internet are the extensions of the real existing places and have no physical presence in reality. The members of the city when consume cyberspace become a site by creating their profile, account or website. It is the site interacting with the other site so, the cyberspace becomes the interaction of sites (Mirzoeff,).

Foucault has categorized cyberspace as a “heterotopic place” in his chapter “Of Other Spaces”. A heterotopic place is a place that does not exist in the physical world. The cyberspace is heterotopic just like a mirror as we can see oneself in the mirror but inside mirror nothing exists. It is just a virtual reality of our real selves. It is only the reflection of our life. Taking my own example for the research, my Facebook account is only a reflection of me. It is different from my self-existence in real space. I don’t actually live in the cyberspace and it doesn’t define me completely.

Utopic Cyberspace:

An internet user needs to create an account in order to be a Facebook user. A profile is required and then you can add other users in your friend list. While creating a profile, user actually creates an online identity. Profile has a lot of questions that will project your personality online; like political views, interested in (male, female or both), your favorite quote, your relationship status etc.

When I joined Facebook, I went through a process of creating my profile. I chose what information to be visible to whom. Facebook has a privacy setting that enables you to tailor your account your way. I have not put up any religious comment on my profile information and that’s my choice.  I have a personal setting on my account so that not everyone can add me, only mutual friends have that option.

As Sherry Turkle says that the identities of the users are constructed in cyberspace.  People tend to have tailored self and psyche online in order to remain anonymous.  This idea of being anonymous gives users a sense of freedom and they tend to perform a role online. The user is free to be what he/ she wants to be. I share a lot of posts on Facebook related to horoscopes, relationships, political, social, fiction philosophy and much of the content is feminist in nature. I come across a lot of content on facebook that I don’t share via my profile but I do read, like and comment. Similarly, the pictures shared on my account are selected ones. I only post the pictures that I am comfortable sharing with my entire friend list. Although my profile isn’t public and all of the posts and pictures are closely restricted to my friends only still I choose the picture to be uploaded. I have the liberty of tailoring my account the way I want it to be.

The cyberspace offers a sense of power, control and freedom. Control over the interaction, environment and who can communicate to you publicly or privately. On my account I have blocked few people to control the virtual social circle. The blocked profiles cannot message me; communicate publically or privately, post on my timeline, share or comment on anything I post. This blocking option of Facebook has given me the power to construct the space I want to.

Cyberspace gives the user a sense of confidence as it has a virtual interaction in contrast to a physical face-to-face conversation. Through my account I have talked to people more confidently than in real interactions. Here interaction refers solely to interaction with the opposite sex. Last year I got to know a mutual friend to whom I wanted to talk to. I preferred searching him on facebook and converse virtually than approaching him directly and know him more. I had an apprehension of his rude behavior which I couldn’t handle being with him in real time and space. Similarly, if I have to convince my elder sister personal message application of facebook works better than talking to her in real space. I can defend my point and create more rebuttals online than in real space where, I lose the dialogue.

Other than interactions, views and opinions are much easier to share on facebook status rather than in real space. Political affiliations in real space are not easy due to family pressures. I support Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) and Imran Khan on social media only, although I am a registered supporter of PTI but I can’t actually attend their rallies in Karachi. Being a female I have restrictions for involvement in political activities. Cyberspace has given me the opportunity to be affiliated with PTI without being an active participant of their gatherings.

Karachi in Real space:

In contrast to my Facebook account I will compare myself in the real space of Karachi. For this research I went through my timeline and critically reviewed it. I was at a conclusion that my online profile is just representing a part of me. My true self has a lot more than my account.

I particularly select what to be on my timeline and not everything of my real life is online. My profile seems to be of a perfect person who feels contented with life and work. In real space I am pessimist and get easily depressed every now and then.

In real space I actually don’t follow whatever I share on facebook like following your heart and travelling frequently. In real space I only do what feels like logical even at the cost of my happiness and inner peace.

I can’t do whatever I want to in real space. I went to the Dolmen Mall (Tariq road) there I was trying to find a shop where I came last time. During this struggle a young man constantly followed me until I was in distress. The reason of my anxiety was not only that I was alone but also it was an evening hour. The relationship of a female member with the real space is different from the cyberspace. The cyberspace does not have the time constraint for female users.

The women in real space don’t have the liberty of what she wants. The activities of a woman are defined by the environment she lives in. When we consider the relationship of a woman in the city, Shilpa Phadke’s work is very important to look at. She talks about the female member who are unable to claim the city the way male members do. She explains how a woman cannot move around without a purpose. A woman in order to consume a public space needs to have a purpose to shield her. She makes the purpose of claiming the public space more obvious to not to be categorized.

In real space I don’t have the liberty to associate myself with any political party. Due to family restrictions I am not allowed to participate in political activities. While my family has no issues if I am affiliated to the same political party virtually and doesn’t require to physically gather. Despite of having inclinations I would not be able to find a platform to voice my opinions in real space. Whereas, in cyberspace I can communicate to public or my friend list in order to share my opinion.

In real space I cannot control my environment by blocking people and restricting them. I blocked my brother on my social network on facebook for some reasons, whereas I can’t restrict him in any way in my real space. I can only limit my interaction with him when we both are home but I can’t stop him from living in the same home. I don’t enjoy the power of controlling my space in reality as I do on cyberspace.

Dystopic cyberspace:

Cyberspace despite of much openness  has a dystopia attached to it. By dystopia I refer to the construction of real spaces. Cyberspace gives you a feeling of an ideal space and in reality it is not as it is portrayed. Online shopping is one of the dystopic experience cyberspace has to offer. I became one of the victims when I shop from an online store considering it will be very easy to get things at your door step. Not only I got the wrong size dress but also the ordered color was not dispatched by the store. The situation got worse when the reimbursement and the process of cancelling the order dragged. The online shopping is the worst of the experience I had online.

Cyberspace particularly facebook offers a great deal of security and privacy settings but at the same time the administration changes the policies so frequently that the user are unable to cope up. I never knew that my display picture of the facebook profile will be public if I sync sound cloud account with my facebook account. I got to know when one of my friends showed my picture in the google images random search. The detail it has is of my sound cloud account where I never posted my picture and was extracted from my facebook profile when I initially synced both accounts. Apparently facebook offers a long list of security and shows the user has the power but it has a lot more inside that’s hidden from the user.


Karachi as a real space and as a cyberspace is a unique city for women. It has much liberty to offer as a cyberspace than a real space. The women have power and control in cyberspace in comparison to the real space. The conclusion of this paper would be that the woman in cyberspace is opposite to the woman in real space. The utopic cyberspace also has the dystopic elements whereas the real space is entirely different from its online extension.

Woman enjoys the ideal space online whereas, her life in real space is controlled by the society and other members. As my facebook account is a tailored and constructed version of me, along with this it does not reflect my life completely. In contrast, my real life is not merely dependent on my likes and dislikes it is controlled by other people as well, making it a dystopia in comparison to the cyberspace.

Cyberspace that does not exist in physical nature has provided me with the illusion of taking the lead, being in power, to be able to control and to be what I want to be. This illusionary world with no real space creates a heterotopia. Heterotopias are the no place places that only reflect the real self like a mirror. I can live a utopian life via my online account but I can’t dwell there solely. It is a reflection of my life but not my life.


  • Mirzoeff, Nicholas, “The Visual Culture Reader”, 2nd Edition
  • Miskowiee, Jay, 1984, “Des Espaces Autres”, French Journal: “Architecture- Mouvement- Continuite”.
  • Phadke, Shilpa; Ranade, Shilpa; Khan, Sameera, 2009, “Dissent and Cultural Resistance in Asia’s Cities, Routledge.
  • Turkle, Sherry, 1997, “Life on Screen: Identity in the age of the Internet”, New York, Touch stone.