ISBN: 9788776940454

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


Are Knudsen

2009, 252 pp.

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”.

About the Author

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).