Affect as a Technology of Rule: Militarism in Pakistan

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.