Violence and Belonging

Land, Love and Lethal Conflict in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan

by Are Knudsen

  • Published:
  • Pages: 252 pp.
  • illustrated
  • Series number: 115
Available from NIAS Press worldwide

Most studies of violence in the Middle East and South Asia come from the perspective of honour or political violence. By contrast, this important study offers a new perspective on its causes in Pakistan’s unruly North-West Frontier Province and challenges stereotyped images of a region and people miscast as extremist and militant.

Honour and violence is a major theme in the anthropology of the Middle East, yet – apart from political violence – most studies approach violence from the perspective of honour.

By contrast, this important study examines the meanings of lethal conflict in a little-studied tribal society in Pakistan’s unruly North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) 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 systemic 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.

In the words of Professor Charles Lindholm (Boston University), ’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’.

Are Knudsen is Research Director at the Chr. Michelsen Institute, a leading development research institute in Norway, where he leads a research group on Peace, Conflict and the State. He has done long-term fieldwork in Pakistan and Lebanon and specializes on social conflict, political violence and Islamism (political Islam).

author image not supplied

Are Knudsen is a social anthropologist, and researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Norway.  His research experience from South East Asia includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon and Palestine.

Are Knudsen is a social anthropologist, and researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Norway.  His research experience from South East Asia includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon and Palestine.

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by Mary Elaine Hegland, Santa Clara University
From journal:
American Ethnologist, Vol. 41 (1): 209-10, 2014

"…this is an outstanding update of Barth’s work because it is a multiplex analysis of the processes of change…

"…this is an outstanding update of Barth’s work because it is a multiplex analysis of the processes of change…

Knudsen’s masterful ethnography is a reminder to be attentive to work at the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Bergen, Norway – where Knudsen has now turned to research about Palestinian refugees – as well as to the publications of the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies."

by
From journal:
The Hindu. Monday, April 4, 2011

"This important study examines the meanings of lethal conflict in a little studied studied tribal society in Pakistan’s unruly North West Frontier Province and offers a new perspective on its causes."

"This important study examines the meanings of lethal conflict in a little studied studied tribal society in Pakistan’s unruly North West Frontier Province and offers a new perspective on its causes."

by Frank Ledwidge
From journal:
Asian Affairs, March 2010

Academic it  may be, but this anthropological text with its fascinating degressions into magic, romance, land tenure, dispute resolution, and above all, the eponymous relationship of violence to the sense of belonging to land and community, is not dull.

This is a book to savour and upon which to reflect.

Academic it  may be, but this anthropological text with its fascinating degressions into magic, romance, land tenure, dispute resolution, and above all, the eponymous relationship of violence to the sense of belonging to land and community, is not dull.

This is a book to savour and upon which to reflect.

by Laila Bokhari
From journal:
Forum for Development Studies Vol. 37, No. 1, March 2010

Violence and Belonging is here a breath of some serious fresh air.  It offers ample reflection and valuable primary source knowledge.  Not only does the book offer an in-depth study of the complexities of violence at different levels, it also challenges our understanding of concepts such as honour, politics and human security on both theoretical and practical levels.  Mo

Violence and Belonging is here a breath of some serious fresh air.  It offers ample reflection and valuable primary source knowledge.  Not only does the book offer an in-depth study of the complexities of violence at different levels, it also challenges our understanding of concepts such as honour, politics and human security on both theoretical and practical levels.  More important, however, is that the study also challenges our stereotype images when it comes to violence and conflict analysis.

by Magnus Marsden, School of Oriental and African Studies
From journal:
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N. S.) 16, 654-701

…this is an excellent volume.  It is an important addition to the bookshelves of scholars and students of Pakistan, as well as those interesed in the anthropology of violence, especially in the Middle East.  Equally importantly, it should be read by a broader readership concerned with the identity formations of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s Frontier people, and the importance of place

…this is an excellent volume.  It is an important addition to the bookshelves of scholars and students of Pakistan, as well as those interesed in the anthropology of violence, especially in the Middle East.  Equally importantly, it should be read by a broader readership concerned with the identity formations of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s Frontier people, and the importance of place to these.

by Stefan Schütte, Centre for Development Studies, Freie Universität Berlin
From journal:
Mountain Research and Development vol. 30, no. 2, May 2010

Knudsen is able to uncover a real treasure of information and case study material that enlighten the reader about the detrimental consequences of maintaining one’s honor in a patriarchal egalitarian society.

Knudsen is able to uncover a real treasure of information and case study material that enlighten the reader about the detrimental consequences of maintaining one’s honor in a patriarchal egalitarian society.

The empirical findings are extensive and elaborate, and the book should be consulted by anyone with an interest in contemporary realities of village life in Pakistan and the ways that honor is constructed, challenged, and translated into violence.

by Professor Fredrik Barth
From journal:
Boston University and University of Oslo

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

‘We should make the best possible use of this analysis: for its darling perspectives, extreme empirical findings, and wide relevance. It deserves a very careful reading for its contributions to so many aspects of our understanding of honour, politics, and human society.’

by Professor Charles Lindholm
From journal:
Boston University

‘The material itself is extremely interesting, dealing as it does with an exotic locale, and with an intractable problem of endemic violence. […]Dr.

‘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.’

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