This essay serves as both an introduction to the themed section and a provocation regarding a possible agenda for the anthropology of history in Pakistan. It considers the implications of Faisal Devji's argument that unity in Pakistan was originally pursued through a rejection of history, suggesting that attempts to identify an inheritance—to articulate the form and nature of a responsibility to the past—have proved intellectually and politically productive following the country's establishment in 1947 and its further rupture in 1971. It considers how Pakistan's unsettled relationship to the past is mediated through architecture—as professional practice, as physical object, but also as metaphor for thought. Arguing that public history projects in the country evince a “will to architecture”—the desire to erect a stable edifice in the face of a vertiginous historicity—it then explores heritage-making practices that manage to challenge or subvert this compulsion to foundation.

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