added 2 research items
The Political Economy of Religious Shrines
This paper offers a novel illustration of the political economy of religion and development by empirically examining the impact of religious shrines on development. Compiling a unique database covering the universe of holy Muslim shrines across Pakistani Punjab, we show that historically embedded religious power shapes persistent differences in literacy. Using the 1977 military takeover as a universal shock, our difference-indifferences analysis suggests that areas with a greater concentration of shrines recognized by the British colonial administration experienced a substantially retarded growth in literacy. We argue that this literacy disadvantage in shrine-dominated regions is largely attributable to a growingly prominent role of shrine elites in electoral politics and their direct control over allocation of public goods since the 1977 military coup. Our analysis suggests that shrines in these regions represent the confluence of three forces-religion, land and politics-that together constitute a powerful structural inequality with potentially adverse consequences for development.
This article provides a first systematic mapping of politically influential shrines across Pakistani Punjab by identifying shrine-related families that have directly participated in elections since 1937. One of the earliest entrants in the politics of pre-partition Punjab, shrine elites ( pīrs ) have shown remarkable persistence in electoral politics post independence. We find striking long-run continuities in the initial configuration of religion, land, and politics fostered during colonial rule and embodied in political shrines. Exploring possible mechanisms of this persistence, we emphasize the role of shifting political alliances, repeated military interventions, marital ties among shrine elites, and preservation of political brokerage. Defined by their privileged ‘origins and associations’ and organized as a group with a strong sense of solidarity around protecting common interests, the pīrs are a key component of Punjab's power elite, the study of which is central to understanding the genesis and persistence of elites and institutions.