Reclaiming Pashtuns Identity: The Role of Informal Spaces in Developing an Alternative Narrative

Author: Usman(Sun Yat-sen University Guangzhou, China)
Speaker: Usman
Topic: Language Minorities and Majorities
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2020 General Session


In this article, we have focused on the “regime of truth” that has been historically constructed in the public education institutions for the state assimilationist nation-building project where Pashtun ethnic identity, culture, history and political existence is marginalized. In addition, the image of the Pashtuns is presented in the popular media discourse as of “suspect community” and “potential terrorists”. In response, Pashtuns focused on the informal spaces such as informal study circles, gatherings, where they have developed, firstly, an alternative narrative to the formal narrative, instead of focusing on the state nationalizing textbooks, they have focused on the Pashtuns historical, cultural and political documents, secondly, very tactically, consciously and academically resisted the image of the Pashtuns as “suspect community”. Drawing on the work of James C. Scott on what he calls “weapons of the weak” this article examines, the selection of these informal spaces very tactically resisted the dominant hegemonic formal narrative and brought a significant political, cultural, historical awareness and ethnic consciousness among the young generation of Pashtuns. Further, this study owned anthropological research methods such as participant observation, informal discussions, formal and informal interviews.

Keywords: Pashtuns, informal spaces, post-colonial state, resistance, political existence.