Zehra Husain

Zehra Husain, Ph.D.

Zehra Husain
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication

Zehra Husain is a cultural anthropologist specializing in media, race and popular culture. Her research studies people’s uptake of popular images as they shape racial subjectivities and cosmopolitan imaginaries in coastal Pakistan.

Zehra Husain received her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from The Graduate Center, CUNY. Her work focuses on image-making practices, affect, iconicity, Blackness and global media circulation in coastal Pakistan. Her research uses ethnographic methods to study people’s uptake of popular media and images to shape projects of self-fashioning and racial belonging.

Husain is working on a book manuscript project on the resonances of boxing, soccer and rap music in a port neighborhood in Karachi, Pakistan’s commercial hub. Husain traces the circulation of global icons, sports and music in mainstream media representations and image-making practices like photography, film, music videos as well as sound production. These visual and aural media are valorized resources through which people draw resonances and similiarities between disprarate and seemingly unrelated contexts, to rework racialized stigmas related to urban violence and marginal status.

Husain’s second research project examines diasporic connections as they are produced historically in regional Baluch television shows on Pakistan’s national television as well as in contemporary telefims circulating on digital media. Envisioned as an “ethnography of the digital,” this project posits the genre of regional television shows and digital films as a media archive of historical migrations, diasporic memories and cosmopolitanisms in the Indian Ocean world.

Husain also holds an MA in Political Communications from Goldsmiths, University of London, and previously worked as a journalist in Karachi.


  • B.Sc., Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), 2012
  • M.A., Goldsmiths, University of London, 2014
  • Ph.D., The Graduate Center, City University New York, 2023