The Languages in Which We Converse: Emotional Labor in the Writing Center and Our Everyday Lives

Muhammad Khurram Saleem

over the years, months, and hours past
i have seen myself fade; and smile
as i dislodge myself, a thorn in the flesh, and make space
for the conversation is not mine to occupy,
Judge, Generalize, and Invoke the Eternal
“to the sacrifice of the particular and the feminine and the specific historical moment” (Gloria Anzaldúa, p. 170)[1]

i must make space for those who come
and give, and give, and give, freely
without constraints, strings, and conditions
for “When my hands are empty
I will be full” (Chrystos, p. 192)1

for my work is to give, and
to listen; to see; to educate myself; to empathize;
falling quiet when I must-should-shall
only when i have
done, done all of this
will i be at ease and go home
stretch and sleep a sleep of which khurram has only dreamed

Muhammad Khurram

I wish to offer this poem in the starting, so that my story is blessed and read in its glow.

I wish to offer this poem in the starting, as a prayer and acknowledgement of the ideas that gave me the strength to put my feelings into letters–string them together–knowing that I have a right to them.

I wish to offer this poem in the starting, because there is this urgency to communicate–to sing–of my growth as a person, a tutor, and the work that I must do if I wish to walk the path I see ahead of me.

In retrospect, as always, I realize that it takes time to consciously nurture a personal tutoring style. A tutoring style which, while borrowing and in friction with others, is still essentially your own. You own it. It takes time, months branching into years, and you keep on refining and fine tuning it. As some thoughts and feelings come into focus, others fade out; you contextualize.

The mundane can suddenly strike you as unique, and you wonder why you never noticed it before. Or, if you did, why did you not follow the honey trail? Maybe it just wasn’t time then. We were not ready, or passionate enough.

You see, sometimes we pause. We pause in a certain place; due to tranquility, comfort, lack of interest, or for whatever reason, and that’s fine. As I said, it takes time. What we should take care not to do it to be stuck, satisfied with where we are, and in doing so ceasing to learn from others and from our environment.

Something similar happened to me; I ceased to reflect. I grew comfortable and languid with my tutoring style thinking that I was satisfactorily executing my job as a tutor. And suddenly, one day, a session with two students caught me off-guard. It set me on a path to a tutoring style that is contextualized, and something which I am still struggling to shape.


The session with the two students wasn’t remarkable. This wasn’t the first time that I had a session with two students at once. At the Ardeshir Cowasjee Writing Center (ACWC)[2] we are no strangers to group tutoring sessions. Whether it be two friends who came together or six people who, pressed for time, would like a consultation on the same topic, we try our best accommodate. This session was remarkable because it was the first time that I acted out of character: becoming a person.

The tutees had completed their assignment, but it was found to be unsatisfactory by their teacher so they had come to the Center for assistance. While I skimmed their papers, I casually talked to them about the assignment, what they had written, their professor’s expectations, the due date, and the difficulties they were experiencing.

Having understood the assignment and its requirements, I started by explaining connotations and denotations of certain terminologies they had used, their correct and incorrect usages, grammatical mistakes, and how all of this came together to have made their essay “unsatisfactory.”

I asked them if they understood, they said yes. I asked them to explain these reasons back to me, they couldn’t. I tried again, dropped the terminologies, chose more casual words and different examples. No progress. I became exasperated and, as a last ditch effort, asked them to try and explain the assignment to each other, and then explain it to me. While it didn’t work out exactly the way I wanted it to, as they still failed to articulate it, it did help.

Before I continue on to elucidate as to why this off-hand pedagogical tool (asking the students to explain the assignment to each other so that they may reach their own conclusions) somewhat worked out, I would just like to ask you, dear reader, to pause for moment and reflect on the story I narrated.

There is an element of immense importance which I have omitted to mention. Actually, it is not that I omitted to mention it, but rather that it feels understood, so much so that it has attained invisibility (which is what makes it insidious). I am referring to use of spoken language, or rather “Standard English,” to be less vague but still not precise.

If you thought, as you read the paragraph, that the language used for the writing the assignment and holding the conversation was English then you are, for the most part, correct. The assignment was in English and I did speak only English. The ones who actually did not speak only English were the two students. They spoke Sindhi, a regional language, to explain the assignment to each other. That is why saying that they ‘failed’ to explain the assignment to me discounts the role language plays in the articulation of our understanding. Moreover, consider framing this story in a reverse, or much more egalitarian, manner. Instead of saying that they failed to provide an explanation, could I not have narrated the story by saying that the failure was mine, not theirs? Or that we could not have a conversation?

This might seem a pedantic, and needlessly accusatory; however the manner in which we tell our stories do have real-life consequences. We should be more conscious of the manner in which we narrate our stories because we might end up inadvertently harming someone.

Although, being conscious of the words we pick and choose every single time might not happen. That’s perfectly fine. Slippages and mistakes happen. It takes time to learn, unlearn, and re-learn. What is of concern, though, is that we make the effort to be sensitive to these issues because as writing center tutors, I would argue, it is our duty to have respectful and productive conversations. And one way of having these conversation is to engage in emotional labor, which means evaluating our positionalities before entering any discussion, not centering on ourselves, and by admitting to not knowing. Emotional labor is simply an enabler of having these respectful and productive conversations, and I have chosen the following three focuses to demonstrate that labor in action.

Emotional Labor: The Invisible Glue

In 1983, Arlie Hochschild published The Managed Heart in which she used the word “emotional work” to describe a form of labor, which was taxing, went unrewarded and unacknowledged, and yet was expected unceasingly in the service industry; the management and production of emotions became a requisite for satisfactorily completing jobs.

Hochschild’s (1983) formulation of emotional work touches on two elements that form the bedrock of my understanding of the term; one, the production and management of emotions and, two, the unacknowledged and unrewarded nature of this labor.

However, I would like to clarify that there are two very important areas in which I part ways from Hochschild when understanding emotional labor. First, while Hochschild is more concerned with the management and production of emotions for satisfactorily executing a job–thus the frame of reference and diction which Hochschild employs is managerial–my interest is tied to interpersonal relationships and the orchestration of our emotions so that they “do not tear us apart … [and we] learn to move through them and use them for strength and force and insight within our daily lives” (Lorde, 1981, p. 129).

Second, while Hochschild (1983) points to a key hallmark of emotional labor, that it goes unnoticed and unappreciated, still I would like to move away from this negativity. This sort of thinking is what allows people to bemoan the exploitation of emotional labor concomitantly denying others, and themselves in some cases, from the opportunity of performing emotional labor. This is also dangerous because then we do not imagine emotional labor in positive terms, thus what happens when we do perform it and it is acknowledged and rewarded? Especially, since emotional labor is a nebulous concept. It can mean anything from counselling a grief-stricken friend on the death of their loved one, to something as simple as thanking someone for asking after your family’s health.

Likewise, while Hardt’s (1999) conceptualization of affective labor, as a site for liberation and anti-capitalist action and immaterial labor–a bottom up approach and positive spin on bio-power–is something that is much more closer to me, still I hesitate to use these concepts here. I fear that they place a use-value on these actions, the affective and immaterial labor, and in doing so efface more than what they reveal.

Instead, a working definition of emotional labor that I want to use is given by Morrigan (2017) as “the invisible glue that holds our relationships, communities, movements, and selves together.” For me emotional labor, then, can be described as acts that let us know we are loved, cared for, welcome, and valued.

A worry which then arises is this: is the generalizability of emotional labor done to such an extent that it ceases to matter? Swenson (2017) thinks so. While I agree with Swenson that we should not use the term emotional labor for every single act of labor, especially those that are exhausting or painful, still I disagree with the narrow category of emotional labor that Swenson, replicating Hochschild’s definition, describes. Central to Swenson is the production and management of emotions. Other forms of labor such as reminding someone to eat do not qualify as emotional labor. For Swenson we need to differentiate between labor about which we have strong feelings for and actually doing emotional labor. That’s why we are provided with a litany of alternatives, such as clerical labor, activism, educational labor, to use instead of emotional labor because most things, according to Swenson, are not emotional labor (Swenson, 2017).

While I appreciate the list of words that Swenson supplies us with so that we are accurate and descriptive with the types of labor we are performing, still there are two fundamental mistakes that Swenson makes. One, thinking that emotions can be separated from any form of labor. Why must clerical labor and emotional labor be mutually exclusive? This is akin to the idea of “objectivity” that is heralded within academia. Two, not every kind of labor is being included. As I said, labor which makes others feel safe, prized, recognized, and bubbling with joy, is what I would consider to be emotional labor. Not labor that is detrimental to other living creatures and our environment. Carrying out murders, genocides, and other acts of gross violence and injustice definitely qualifies as managing emotions to execute the job satisfactorily; however, they are not forms of labor which I would consider emotional labor.

Lastly, emotional labor is about explicitly framing the little things that we do for each other. It is very much about the relationships that we build with each other, what goes into building and sustaining them, and what it means to reciprocate. Shawn Wilson’s (2008) conceptualization of “relationality” is, I believe, an extremely accessible and instructive way of learning what emotional labor is. Emotional labor is what allows us to have respectful and productive conversations, which means evaluating our own positionalities, not centering ourselves, and admitting to not knowing.

Evaluating Our Positionalities: Or, Practicing Relationality

For me evaluating our positionalities essentially means being able to comprehend the space we occupy and how we have come to be occupy this place. This means that we are able to recognize and acknowledge our privilege, what said privilege predicated upon, and how we can use it for more productive ends that do not serve our personal needs and wants. As such, a useful way of thinking about positionality for me has been Wilson’s conceptualization of relationality. Shawn Wilson (2008) in Research is Ceremony tells us: “Rather than viewing ourselves as being in relationship with other people or things, we are the relationships that we hold and are part of” (p. 80).

Framing relationships in this way is nothing short of refreshing for me because this view stresses that relationships are not something removed from us nor are they spaces that separate us; rather, they are simultaneously both removed from us and part of us. Relationships are what constitute, motivate, and move us. That we recognize relationships are not some sort of abstract label that we stick on to things, but rather part of our reality and ourselves.

They are not simply a valve from which of knowledge flows that we can turn on and off as we please but rather an intrinsic part of us because our knowledge is shaped by the relationships that we have. That is why we should take steps to cultivate healthy relationships, break off unhealthy ones, and strengthen the ones that we care about and already have. To better ourselves and others.

As writing center tutors we must be cognizant of this. We must ask ourselves: what privileges do we have? How do we benefit from these privileges? And what can we do so that our privileges do not become a barrier between tutees and us? Once we know where we stand, we can make better decisions about how to behave and act more ethically.

I must learn how my being male, cis, able-bodied, Muslim, and–most relevantly to this conversation–having the ability to speak and write well in English work in the context of a patriarchal, transphobic, ableist and theocratically fundamentalist and postcolonial state places me in certain intersections of power and privilege. It is only when I do this that I will be in a much better position to have conversations where the tutee is comfortable in my presence. As Blitz and Hurlbert (2000) contend, this is the ultimate goal of the tutor.

Centering the Tutee: Postcolonialism and ESL

I would like to revisit the story that I narrated at the start, of the two students, and add some details. Particularly, about the politics around the usage of English, Urdu and Sindhi, in Pakistan’s context.

The ethnicity of those two students was Sindhi, meaning their families did not migrate to Sindh, or Karachi to be more specific, in 1947 during the formation of Pakistan as a nation or in the subsequent years. The tutees’ first language was Sindhi and given their background as students who came into IBA through the institution’s Sindh Talent Hunt Program (STHP),[3] English would most likely be their third or fourth language and they had yet to build a comfortable relationship with it. That is why when they would come to the writing center and talk face-to-face with someone who speaks nothing but English, they might become ashamed of their own lack of control and hesitate. They withdraw. As such having a productive and respectful conversation is not possible.

I observed this in my own session. The students did not speak to me in Sindhi. They, rightly, expected that I would not know Sindhi just as I knew they were Sindhi. And since I showed no sign of being amiable to speaking in Urdu, or a mixture of the two, they refrained. Moreover, even if they had spoken to me in Urdu, I would have responded in English, since that is how I was trained.

After all, while Pakistan may be a postcolonial nation-state, being postcolonial it’s not all that cut and dry. In fact, it is quite a messy business, as Anne McClintock (1995) reminds us in Imperial Leather, and it is from here that I take my working definition of the term ‘postcolonial.’ McClintock argues that the prefix ‘post’ performs two pivotal functions.

First, it signifies a linear and Euro-centric understanding of time. As such, temporality and historiography is understood not in the terms of those who were colonized but rather the colonizer. An example of this can be seen from second wave feminist writers as they were starting to recognize their own racism and colorism, and yet were unable, or unwilling, to adequately address the issue. For example, the literary work of The Madwomen in the Attic (1979) only used Bertha (the colored “madwoman” in the novel Jane Eyre) as an ornate piece of décor on the cover. The book failed, miserably, to center Bertha as a character since Bertha was always and only constituted through Jane or someone else. Thus, in retrospective writing and telling of history, other cultures are subordinated by European knowledge, which is not seen as cultural knowledge but rather as Knowledge.

Second, by using the prefix ‘post,’ the end of colonization is signaled. This belies the lived reality of the people in these supposedly ‘postcolonial’ nation-states as the Structures/Institutions still utilized by the governments are very much colonial (the word nation-state is a colonial construct itself). Thus, the use of ‘post’ enacts erasure by making the continuities between these two modes of governmentality much harder to recognize and theorize.

With these functions in mind, I am aware of the dangers of using term postcolonial; however, it is important as it allows for me to then point towards the continuities that are present and why English as a language, not because of any intrinsic quality, continues to hold such socio-cultural capital in Pakistan.

The first, and one of the most important, things to know about Pakistan is that it is a multilingual country. We think, speak, write and kill each other over language as this is one of the most fundamental tenets for forming communities, alliances, families. It is a way of knowing what your ethnicity is–our privileged words–and where you belong (and where you do not). As race functions as one of the most fundamental basis for discrimination in the USA, ethnicity does the same in Pakistan. However, do keep in mind that it is an extremely crude simplification. The reality is, of course, far more complex.

While I do not have the space to explore in depth how the language, and accent, in which you speak is a powerful marker of your socio-cultural capital as it instantly signals to which class and region you belong[4], I will try to briefly illustrate this by way of a small story.

In a 3-credit hour course, titled Personal Effectiveness, that is mandatory for all IBA students, we are taught how to make a curriculum vitae, write memos, take minutes of meetings, how to ace interviews in the corporate sector, etc. During the course we are told that we must not mention Urdu as one of the languages which we know in our CVs as that is our “birthright,” but Balochi, Sindhi, Saraiki, and even Punjabi we should mention as they are “regional languages that add value to our skill-set.” Urdu is actually no one’s birthright; however, it is the lingua franca of the middle and upper class in Pakistan, partly because knowing Urdu is essential to do business in Karachi. Even if they do not converse[5] in Urdu, they are still capable of it. There are very specific historical reasons as to why Urdu was declared as our “birthright” in IBA, Karachi; the same would not have happened in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, or Lahore, both cities in Punjab. Let me elucidate this by way of a somewhat parallel example.

On August 22, 2016, the Beaconhouse School System (BSS), a private educational institution (code for expensive and English speaking) in Sahiwal, a district in Punjab, issued a notice to all the parents outlining their disciplinary policies. One of them was banning the use of Punjabi in school and calling it a “foul” language (Rajeshwari, 2016).

This made the rounds on social media, taking about two months to become a controversial issue over which the school administration generally, and the Beaconhouse administration specifically, was lambasted. Pressure was mounting for the Sahiwal Boys Campus to recant this statement. The school refused and issued a clarification instead:

We are NOT going to disown the circular that has been shared on social media, but we need to STRONGLY clarify (which anyone who reads English can easily understand from context) that our School Head in Sahiwal was referring to a ban on profanity and cursing in Punjabi, which was apparently an issue with a few older students at his school [Italics are mine, the capitalization is in the original]. (Rajeshwari, 2016)

The emphasis here is on English. While invoking the ability to read English is correctly placed as it is used to patronize and deflect any charge of incompetency on the school’s part, a common enough tactic as English carries social currency. Still, it is false as the wording of the injunction is atrocious, to quote: “Foul language is not allowed within and outside the school premises, in the morning, during the school hours and after home time. Foul language includes taunts, abuse, Punjabi and hate speech” (Rajeshwari, 2016).

Anyone who can read only English will understand that Punjabi is being called a foul language. However, for those who speak Punjabi as well there is room to interpret this message as not calling Punjabi a foul language because of context. What is being called foul is swearing in Punjabi. This is understood from context because swearing in Punjabi is quite common. However, soon after the school withdrew the notice and the Beaconhouse School System issued a clarification which held the school head of Sahiwal accountable for this miscommunication (“Beaconhouse never banned,” 2016).

Interestingly, the BSS also invoked context and English by way of justification when issuing its clarification. It was stated that the Sahiwal school head himself is a proud Punjabi and is not well acquainted with English, therefore the wording of his message which implied that Punjabi is a foul language could not have possibly occurred to him, which is quite plausible.

Similarly, speaking Urdu is the “birthright” of those who are in Karachi and attend IBA. This declaration then leaves out Sindhis for whom ethnically speaking Urdu isn’t a birthright, designates their mother tongue as a useful, but not necessary, skill, and re-enforces the language hierarchy. That is why when I say we must center the tutee, in my context one of the things this means is being conscious of the language within which the discussion and writing are being done. So that we can being to start learning together, instead of me simply speaking to them.

Learning English is the key to great class mobility, and I always encourage and push, my tutees towards that. However, I have neglected to examine what this privileging of English is built upon, what my relationship is to it and how it differs from my tutee’s relationship with it, and as a result I have failed to center the tutee and forge a relationship with them. As Ezekiel Choffel puts it, “academic colonality functions on multiple levels and not all of these levels are evil … but there is a sense of oppression that often times goes un-discussed” (Choffel, 2014).

Therefore, for me, centering the tutee means empathizing, and acting on that empathy. To make concessions and to ask the tutee, in the language they are most comfortable with–if I can, about the problems they are facing. What they would like to learn, how they study, rest, enjoy themselves. It means trying to incorporate that into our sessions instead of infantilizing them and assuming that we know better, understand better, and think better. That’s why it’s better to assume that maybe the tutees know their problems better than we do, and that maybe they get to decide what is important. Especially since English is a second language for the great majority of Pakistanis, and so we should be much more sensitive to the privileges speaking and writing fluent English begets, and how we can give back. It’s about being more honest.

Admitting to not Knowing

It’s alright to not know something. I have noticed in my tutoring sessions that sometimes I use complex terminologies to hide my own insecurities. I find that not being honest with my tutees at times impedes the forming our relationships. We are humans. We cannot know everything, and we make mistakes. And we should be honest about our shortcomings; after all, being a tutor is about working together. It’s about collaboration. This is why Clark and Healy (1996) are wrong when they say: “true collaborative learning occurs between colleagues who are both members of the same discourse community” (p. 250). That is why I always find it useful to revisit Bruffee’s argument for what a writing center and peer tutoring should be like–a conversation with the tutees about our relationship.

I would also like to emphasize that this does not mean we can continue to be ignorant when we know that we should educate ourselves about what we do not know, or are being called out for. It’s not alright to fail to empathize and not be willing to learn. This work is important because we can help each other grow. Admitting that we do not know is also important because, often, not knowing is looked down upon and punished in various ways, such as constant sarcastic jibes or not being invited to join a group for an assignment, which are quite harmful to a person’s self-esteem. Thus, the bravado and constant pressure to know, to keep up, to follow, all lead to burning out.

As tutors, who are supposed to know, if we can do away with the stigma of not knowing then that’s a pretty hard battle won. After that, the next time a tutee does not know something, instead of invoking a negative emotion, there might be a positive reaction; a spur to learn and know, from the heart and with passion.


For me being a tutor means having productive and respectful conversations, and one way of having these conversations is to engage in emotional labor. While the concept of engaging in emotional labor is quite nebulous, and so signifies many actions, I would like to suggest three.

First, we must evaluate our own positions, where we stand, and how we have come to occupy this position so that we are able to make better decisions as to what is or is not appropriate to say.

Second, we must not center on ourselves. This can be done in many ways, and what I am specifically concerned with here is being conscious of the language within which the discussion and writing is being done, and being empathetic. Also, while I haven’t discussed this in much depth, sometimes we must not center the tutee either. The tutee’s comfort is no excuse for not calling out their colorism and sexism. Sometimes, it’s those people who are at the margins who need to be centered; not the tutor nor the tutee.

Third, we must admit to not knowing. This is simply about being honest with ourselves, the tutees, and our jobs. It is a chance to grow and learn, a chance to engage in collaborative work.

Ultimately, if I do not talk, even if only a bit, about my relationship with the writing center as a space, I believe that I would have then failed to honor the concept of Relationality, because building relationships with people is as important as building relationships with the spaces we occupy. For me, a writing center is a space that should always be about open t dialogue, about helping people, about being aware of our differences, our privileges, and doing what we can to bridge that gap to make this a space where everyone feels safe and welcome. As such, bigotry, and making fun of mental illnesses, preaching from a pulpit against marginalized communities, and advocating open hate against them, should have no place here. It should not be tolerated. Ever. We know better. We’ve learned better.

Having said that, however, we must also give people the chance to grow. We must allow for the apriori of not knowing the whole story. Of not knowing the words. But what we must not be open to is deliberate, repeated, continuous hate directed towards people living in the margins, or a refusal to change. We must speak up against this in our sessions; this is us, as tutors, doing emotional labor–we are lessening the hate. That is why we must use our anger to communicate hurt caused, not anger to hurt. There is a crucial difference to be made (Lorde, 1981). If we are able to convince even one person to not criminalize and pathologize other ideas, values, and norms, we have done good work. And we should make the effort to do this good.

I hope journals such as this can be host to many important conversations; that we spend some time reflecting on what it means to listen, and what it means to respect each other, especially those of us who are not afforded the respect we deserve. And I hope this helps.


I am infinitely thankful to The Peer Review team, Ben Goodwin, Elena Garcia, and Ezekiel Choffel, for their patience with me, reading all the ramblings, their timely and ever insightful feedback, and I apologize for all the effort, reading and re-reading that you had to undertake to make sense of my writing.

A big hug, love and thanks to my brother Arsam Saleem, honestly, I couldn’t have made it without you. Thank you for your constant support and motivation for the last 6 months specifically for making this work happen, and thank for you constant support for the last 18 years as well. If there’s one person I know who will be in my corner no matter what it’s you.

I would also like to thank Komal Qidwai for her instant feedback on my poem, and its appreciating. Your approval meant everything.

Also, thank you Hammad Ahmed for being my emotional support for the last three years. Thank for teaching me to love myself, to stick up for those on the margins, to acknowledge my privilege, and actually do some good with it. You helped me write this paper and you don’t even know it! Lastly, I love how much trust you put in me; it means the world.

A special thanks to Aaisha Salman <3. There are very few people that I am genuinely glad to have met and wish to never lose, and you are one of them, you have taught me what empathy, speaking up, and emotional labor means.

Lastly, my ever-undying gratitude to my parents; I love you both. Thank you for raising me with so much love and care. And always hoping and working for my best. Honestly, you are the great parents.

Works Cited:

Beaconhouse never banned punjabi language on campus. (2016). The Express Tribune. Retrieved from

Bruffee, K. A. (2001). Peer tutoring and the ‘conversation of mankind’. In R. W. Barnett & J. S. Blumner (eds.), The Allyn and Bacon guide to writing center theory and practice, pp. 206-218. New York: Longman.

Choffel, E. (2014). Decolonial options for writing consultations. Retrieved from

Clark, I. L. & Healy, D. (2001). Are writing centers ethical? In R. W. Barnett & J. S. Blumner (eds.), The Allyn and Bacon guide to writing center theory and practice, pp. 242-259. New York: Longman.

Gilbert, S. M. & Gubar, S. (1979). Madwoman in the attic: The woman writer and the nineteenth-century literary imagination. London: Yale University Press.

Hardt, M. (1999). Affective labor. boundary 26(2), 89-100. Retrieved from

Hochschild, A. R. (1983). The managed heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Hurlbert, M. C. & Blitz, M. (2000). If you have ghosts. In L. C. Briggs & M. Wollbright (eds.), Stories from the center: Connecting narrative and theory in the writing center, pp. 84-93. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

Lorde, A. (2007). On the uses of anger. In A. Lourde (ed.), Sister outsider: Essays & speeches by Audre Lorde, pp. 124-133. Berkeley, CA: Crossing Press.

McClintock, A. (1995). Imperial leather. New York: Routledge.

Moraga, C., & Anzaldúa, G. (1983). This bridge called my back: Writings by radical women of color. New York, NY: Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press.

Morrigan, C. (2017). “Three thoughts On emotional labour” Retrieved from

Rajeshwari, A. (2016). Pakistani school labels punjabi as ‘foul’ language, bans its usage. Times Of India Blog. Retrieved from

Swenson, H. (2017). Please stop calling everything that frustrates you emotional labor. Slate. Retrieved from

Wilson, S. (2008). Research Is ceremony: indigenous research methods. Black Point, Nova Scotia: Fernwood Publishing.

  1. *The lines by Chrystos and Gloria Anzaldúa have been taken from their works, respectively titled “Ceremony for Completing a Poetry Reading” and “Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to Third World Women Writers”, published in Moraga, C., & Anzaldúa, G.: This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color.
  4. In Karachi: Ordered Disorder and the Struggle for the City (2014), Laurent Gayer does an excellent job at showing how religion, ethnicity, politics, intersect to criminalize certain groups and spaces.
  5. Being able to converse in Urdu does not mean that they are able to write and read Urdu. All three are not mutually exclusive.