Le désordre ordonné : la fabrique violente de Karachi (Pakistan)
With a population exceeding twenty million, Karachi is already one of the largest cities in the world. It could even become the world’s largest city by 2030. Karachi is also the most violent of these megacities. Since the mid-1980s, it has endured endemic political conflict and criminal violence, which revolve around control of the city and its resources. These struggles for the city have become ethnicised. Karachi, often referred to as a “Pakistan in miniature”, has become increasingly fragmented, socially as well as territorially. Notwithstanding this chronic state of urban political warfare, Karachi is the cornerstone of the economy of Pakistan. Despite what journalistic accounts describing the city as chaotic and anarchic tend to suggest, there is indeed order of a kind in the city’s permanent civil war. Far from being entropic, Karachi’s polity is predicated upon relatively stable patterns of domination, rituals of interaction and forms of arbitration, which have made violence “manageable” for its populations – even if this does not exclude a chronic state of fear, which results from the continuous transformation of violence in the course of its updating. Whether such “ordered disorder” is viable in the long term remains to be seen, but for now Karachi works despite—and sometimes through—violence.