Modern South Asian Studies seminar MT21 Wk 2: Affects as Technology of Rule: Militarism in Pakistan

Conveners: Nayanika Mathur, Imre Bangha, Kira Huju, Thiruni Kelegama and Anwesha Roy

Speaker: Maria Rashid (UCL)

Saturated with tropes of honour, nation and gender, military deaths are political instances that attach meaning to private grief to produce a public politics of service and sacrifice for the nation-state. The Pakistan Military invested heavily in crafted rituals for mourning dead soldiers as soldier casualties and the clamour against ‘America’s war’ mounted during the military operations in the ‘War on Terror.’ Through an ethnographic exploration of soldier death in military commemorative ceremonies and its reception in ‘martial’ villages in Punjab, this talk explores the gap between everyday experiences of families that mourn their dead in rural Pakistan and the idealized image of the martyr that saturates national representations. Positioning dead body politics and ritualistic mourning as technologies of rule, through a focus on subjectivity, intimacy and affect, the talk will explicate the persuasive powers through which hegemonic institutions seek to produce consensus and ideological conformity.

Maria Rashid completed her doctorate in politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies in 2018. Her book Dying to Serve,  Militarism, Affect and the Politics of Sacrifice was published in 2020 by Stanford University Press and was shortlisted for the IPS- International Political Sociology Book Award, 2021. A psychologist by training, she has worked with various national and international non-governmental organizations in Pakistan for over twenty years. She continues to be involved in research around violence, gender and militarism, and is associated with a number of networks and collaboratives both in Pakistan and the UK.  Rashid is a post-doctoral scholar at the Social Research Institute at University College London, UK where she is involved in a project that studies the Bengali community in Pakistan, tracing it history and exploring how its members traverse the space between being Pakistani and being Bengali.

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