- Notes on the sublime: aspects of political violence in urban Pakistan
- South Asian Popular Culture
- Volume | Issue number
- 11 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Years before the so-called ‘War of Terror’ in which Pakistan has played a significant role, representations of terrorism and sacrifice already influenced political conflict in the country, particularly in Karachi and other parts of urban Sindh. This article focuses on the process of representation through which political violence comes to be interpreted in the symbolic terms of culture and religion. Criticizing Orientalist notions that ascribe certain violent mentalities and practices to religious or ethnic groups in an essentialist manner, I argue that (self-)representations of sublime violence are nonetheless important to analyze for their an escalating effect on the political conflict. By examining the ways in which religious and ethnicized traditions of solidarity, justice and sacrifice have framed the representation of political violence in Sindh, I explore the interplay between the media, intelligence agencies of various state authorities, as well as political parties and their militants, focusing on their mutual interest in producing a visual culture of heroic violence and martyrdom.
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