Pashto poetry and drones: the necromaniac mutations of tapey
Keywords:Pashtun, Pashtun life, tapey, drone, drone attacks, necrospace, necropoiltics, war on terror, global war on terror, suicide attacks, militarised violence
The material consequences of the US-led “war on terror” in Pakistan are always counted in statistical terms, that is, the number of casualties in drone strikes or suicide bombings. Little attention, however, is paid to the local public imagination to know how the ordinary people consume this everyday destruction and what kind of cultural production it ensures that shapes and inspires their imagination. In this study, therefore, we discuss the way systemic violence and cultural expression reinforce each other and how such an uneasy configuration depicts the pain and injury of people affected by this global war. We examine a purposive sample of Pashto tapey--anonymous couplets attributed to Pashtun women and conventionally reflecting war, valour, grief, longing, and love--to gain an insight into how this folk literature engages militarized violence, embraces the political and ideological challenges of the war, and reveals the hidden power contestation between actual militarization and symbolic representation. A close reading of these tapey depicts that Pashtun life is not only subjected to a rule of death, what Mbembe calls, “necropolitics” but these tapey create its own necrospace in local enunciative and cultural practices, thus reinforcing militarised violence in a cultural sphere.
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