A postcolonial perspective on cultural identity: the Balti people "of" Pakistan

Estelle Dryland, Jawad Syed*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose The aim of this paper is to explore issues of cultural identity of the people of Baltistan and any challenges they face in the nation state of Pakistan. Design/methodology/approach The paper uses a postcolonial lens to offer a review and synthesis of issues of cultural identity of the Balti people of Pakistan. Findings The review demonstrates how the historical and socio-political context is intertwined with the Balti people's cultural identity which remains hybrid as well as contextual in its construction. It reveals that while the state of Pakistan has been able to assert its control over the Balti people and the region of Baltistan predominantly through military means, the critical issues of cultural pluralism and the basic human rights of the Balti people have remained generally ignored throughout the 63 years since partition. Research limitations/implications The contentions offered in this paper need to be refined through in-depth empirical studies. Future scholars may wish to examine the class and cultural politics at work in the emerging renaissance movement in Baltistan. Scholars may also examine how the lack of economic development and investment in Baltistan may be forcing the Balti people to resign (at least some elements of) their cultural identity to seek employment in urban areas of Pakistan. Originality/value The paper brings to the fore issues of cultural identity of the people of Baltistan, which have to a large extent remained ignored by Pakistan as well as internationally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-57
Number of pages17
JournalEquality, Diversity and Inclusion
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Culture
  • Ethnic groups
  • Pakistan


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