In the West, media coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan is framed by military and political concerns, resulting in a simplistic picture of ageless barbarity, terrorist safe havens, and peoples in need of either punishment or salvation. Under the Drones looks beyond this limiting view to investigate real people on the ground, and to analyze the political, social, and economic forces that shape their lives. Understanding the complexity of life along the 1,600-mile border between Afghanistan and Pakistan can help America and its European allies realign their priorities in the region to address genuine problems, rather than fabricated ones.
This volume explodes Western misunderstandings by revealing a land that abounds with human agency, perpetual innovation, and vibrant complexity. Through the work of historians and social scientists, the thirteen essays here explore the real and imagined presence of the Taliban; the animated sociopolitical identities expressed through traditions like Pakistani truck decoration; Sufism’s ambivalent position as an alternative to militancy; the long and contradictory history of Afghan media; and the simultaneous brutality and potential that heroin brings to women in the area.
Moving past shifting conceptions of security, the authors expose the West’s prevailing perspective on the region as strategic, targeted, and alarmingly dehumanizing. Under the Drones is an essential antidote to contemporary media coverage and military concerns.
The subject of this volume requires no justification given the extraordinary global ramifications of political events in this area. The contributions assembled by the distinguished editors substantially advance understanding of ongoing wars and violence in this troubled region. They also bring to the discussion both a historical perspective and a human dimension that is simply invaluable.
The 13 essays in this volume (each by a specialist) seek to shed light on a society that, while stereotyped as monolithically savage and medieval, is actually bewilderingly complex as it adapts to modern force.
Under the Drones will not displace the notions that Western observers often associate with the Afghanistan–Pakistan region—mindless cruelty, female oppression, and a flourishing opium economy. But the book will help readers to make sense of the economic and social forces that motivate the actions of the borderlands' inhabitants and to understand that the local population is not an empty slate to be written upon by agents from the outside.
Essential for readers who wish to understand more about this region...What emerges is an understanding that the issues afflicting this ancient land are far too complex to be settled by lobbing skyrockets at them.
Most of the essays in this book--including noteworthy pieces by Sana Haroon, Shah Mahmoud Hanifi, and Faisal Devji--come across as challenges, intent on debunking popular myths...The experience of reading Under the Drones may, for many readers, be one of constantly losing their footing, as they realize that the assumptions on which their views are grounded have only tenuous bases in fact. It is a feeling that, over the past dozen years, U.S. military planners in the region will have come to know well.
- 336 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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