chapter  8
28 Pages

Forays into the mist: Violences, voices, vignettes


This preamble is a protective measure, a pre-emptive strategy, in this day and age of ‘good Muslim, bad Muslim’ 2 and disaster fatigue. In recent years, in academic and other contexts in the US, my stories and insights from my fieldwork in Pakistan as a feminist ethnographer of Pakistani origins are mostly received with disinterest once people realize that the violence I am talking about has no direct relevance to their war on terror. What is even more disturbing is when people latch on to minute, even passing, references to either issues they think are worthy of attention with respect to Pakistan, or details they can understand only by using their lives as gauges to make some kind of specific connection. The bigger picture, the relationships between seemingly disparate and remote spaces, get lost, as I fumble to explain that my own brother was not a terrorist, that the codes of Islam cannot explain away the entire worldview of an individual, and that poverty cannot be merely measured through the number of things owned by people. So while the poststructuralist in me abhors this move to pin down meaning in any way, here I briefly underline the intellectual context, intent, and method delimiting my feminist ethnographic project of using three vignettes3 to voice my researching of violence in different contexts within Pakistan, just in case they are filtered out in quests for significance and relevance.