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The social life of rumors: uncertainty in everyday encounters between the military, Taliban and tribal Pashtun in Pakistan

Maqsood, A; (2019) The social life of rumors: uncertainty in everyday encounters between the military, Taliban and tribal Pashtun in Pakistan. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East , 39 (3) pp. 462-474. 10.1215/1089201X-7885414. Green open access

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Abstract

In the aftermath of 9/11, with respect to the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan have been the site of immense violence and destruction, including from US drone attacks, ground military operations by the Pakistan Army, and retaliatory attacks by different factions of Taliban fighters. Using uncertainty as an analytic and ethnographic concept, this article traces the social life of the rumors, conspiracy theories, and stories that float around this violence. It draws attention to their multiple and often contradictory effects: rumors simultaneously breed fear and confusion, help forge intimacy, and provide certainty and coherence. Rather than subvert power relations or simply critique the powerful, I suggest that rumors and conspiracy theories provide the means through which tribal Pashtuns live and make their way in a social world in which they remain unequal, but coeval, participants.

Type: Article
Title: The social life of rumors: uncertainty in everyday encounters between the military, Taliban and tribal Pashtun in Pakistan
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1215/1089201X-7885414
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-7885414
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: conspiracy, rumor, uncertainty, imperialism, Taliban, Pashtun
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10090482
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