Violence and Belonging: Land, Love and Lethal Conflict in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan
Are Knudsen
158 x 240 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

Violence and Belonging examines the meanings of lethal conflict in a little-studied tribal society in Pakistan’s unruly North-West Frontier Province and offers a new perspective on its causes. Based on an in-depth study of local conflicts, the book challenges stereotyped images of a region and people miscast as extremist and militant.

Being grounded in local ethnography enables the book to shed light on the complexities of violence, not only at the structural or systematic level, but also as experienced by the men involved in lethal conflict. In this way, the book provides a subjective and experiential approach to violence that is applicable beyond the field locality and relevant for advancing the study of violence in the Middle East and South Asia. The book is the first ethnographic study of this region since renowned anthropologist Fredrik Barth’s pioneering study in 1954.

are knudsen is Research Director at the Chr. Michelson Institute in Bergen, Norway
  1. Introduction
    Violence and anthropology • Meanings of violence • Reflections on fieldwork and method
  2. Belonging to the palas valley
    Into the valley • Localised Islam • Egalitarianism and equality • Kohistani dwellings • Contact zones • Encountering development • The emerald forests • Historical landscapes
  3. The textured landscape
    Periodic redistribution: the wesh • The fragmented Shin polity, c. 1500–1700 • Embracing Islam and instituting the wesh, c.1700–1850 • Decline and dissolution of the wesh, c. 1850–1890• Indigenous land settlement, c. 1880–1895 • The process of land division • From fields to forest • The Palas wesh
  4. Land of contention
    Maize cultivation • Transhumance • Land-use strategies • Zonation and sociality • Fallow land and enmity • Enforcement of the ban on cultivation • From ban to attack • Social hostility • Fields of fury • Low-yield agriculture
  5. Being, longing and belonging
    Being • Longing • Being in love • The killing of Gulbadan • Defection and exile • Belonging and exclusion
  6. Condemned and confined
    Preamble • Inheriting the pare • The killing of Hilal • Abduction and compensation • The troublesome baando • Confinement and mediation • Baram’s confinement • Epilogue • Narrative and subjectivity
  7. Magic and honour
    Love magic • Magic and sorcery • Honour and violence • Jalil’s story • Magic and belonging
  8. Contesting the boundaries
    Forest ecology • The inverted forest • From use value to exchange value • Disputing over grass • ‘The boundaries are written in our hearts’ • Entitlement disputes • Tenurial complexity
  9. Brooding over the big trees
    Knowing and owning the forest • Early timber logging • Commercial forestry • Dividing the big trees • Logging in Kuz Palas • Logging and disputes • Incongruent boundaries • Social boundaries • Claiming their share • Timber ban • Rich forests, poor people
  10. Thresholds and transitions
    Boundaries of belonging • Situating violence • Revenge and
    retribution • Moral dilemmas • Lethal conflict • The politics of belonging
“The material itself is extremely interesting, dealing as it does with an exotic locale, and with an intractable problem of endemic violence. . . . Dr Knudsen draws this conflictual situation very well, and adds a great deal to the present-day study of violence, putting what is often seen as primordial in the context of modern conditions.”

-  Professor Charles Lindholm, Boston University

“We should make the best possible use of this analysis: for its daring perspectives, extreme empirical findings, and wide relevance.”

-  Professor Emeritus Fredrik Barth, Boston University and University of Oslo

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