PhD Candidate Sociocultural Anthropology


Matriculated in September 2017

Research Interests

South Asia, gender and sexual minorities, globalization, middle class moralities, emotions and affect, subjectivity


Hafsa’s research focuses on how young queer women in Pakistan express love as an emotion tied to their middle class belonging. Connecting this to the narrative of a globalization of the companionate marriage ideal as well a supposedly globalizing LGBTQ+ discourse, Hafsa’s work seeks to problematize the local/global binary by viewing emotions and affect as a key nexus for understanding the making of moral selfhood in middle class Karachi, Pakistan. Looking primarily at emergent networks of young queer women within the city, Hafsa’s work explores the ways in which these networks provide interpersonal emotional support as well as provide emotion scripts for the growing queer population within Pakistan as a balance to potentially globalizing forces of middle class consumption of goods and media.

Hafsa comes to anthropology after getting her M.A. in Islamic theology from Claremont School of Theology, as well as a B.A. in English literature from DePaul University in Chicago. In addition to her academic work, Hafsa is a published nonfiction essayist, paper crafter and watercolorist, and has recently begun to learn how to make her own textiles on a loom. Her writing and paper art has been featured in The Washington Post, The Aerogram, and This Recording, among others.

Awards & Grants (amounts redacted)

  • Boston University Pardee School of Global Affairs – Globalization and Decolonization Fellow. (2022).
  • Boston University Long-Term Graduate Research Abroad Fellowship (GRAF). (2021)
  • Summer Writing Grant, BU Anthropology Dept, (2022).
  • Boston University Pardee School of Global Affairs – Culture, Religion, and World Affairs (CURA) Fellow. (2019-2020).
  • Summer Research Grant, BU Anthropology Dept, (2019).
  • Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS), (2018).
  • Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers (IRT) Fellowship. (2016-2017) 
  • Boston University Dean’s Fellowship (Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021).


  • forthcoming

Book Reviews

  • Hafsa Arain (2020), Book review of “Review of Unruly Visions: The Aesthetic Practices of Queer Diaspora by Gayatri
    Gopinath (2019).” Journal of Asian Ethnology.