Cabeiri RobinsonBody of Victim, Body of Warrior: Refugee Families and the Making of Kashmiri Jihadists

University of California Press, 2013

by SHERALI TAREEN on February 19, 2015

Cabeiri Robinson

View on Amazon

[Cross-posted from New Books in Islamic Studies] The idea of jihad is among the most keenly discussed yet one of the least understood concepts in Islam. In her brilliant new book Body of Victim, Body of Warrior: Refugee Families and the Making of Kashmiri Jihadists (University of California Press, 2013), Cabeiri Robinson, Associate Professor of International Studies and South Asian Studies at the University of Washington engages the question of what might an anthropology of jihad look like. By shifting the focus from theological and doctrinal discussions on the normative understandings and boundaries of jihad in Islam, Robinson instead asks the question of how people live with perennial violence in their midst? The focus of this book is on the Jihadists of the Kashmir region in the disputed borderlands between India and Pakistan, especially in relation to their experiences as refugees (muhajirs). By combining a riveting ethnography with meticulous historical analysis, Robinson documents the complex ways in which Kashmiri men and women navigate the interaction of violence, politics, and migration.  Through a careful reading of Kashmiri Jihadist discourses on human rights, the family, and martyrdom, Robinson convincingly shows that the very categories of warrior, victim, and refugee are always fluid and subject to considerable tension and contestation. In our conversation, we talked about the relationship between the categories of Jihad and Hijra as imagined by Kashmiri Jihadists, the ethical and methodological dilemmas of an ethnographer of Jihad, the mobilization of the human rights discourse by Kashmiri militant groups to legitimate violence, and the intersections of family, sexuality, and martyrdom. All students and scholars of Islam, South Asia, and modern politics must read this fascinating book that was also recently awarded the Bernard Cohn book prize for best first book in South Asian Studies by the Association for Asian Studies.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Christian C. SahnerAmong the Ruins: Syria Past and Present

February 12, 2015

Christian C. Sahner‘s Among the Ruins: Syria Past and Present (Oxford University Press, 2014) resists easy categorization into genre: it as at once a travel log, an impassioned lecture on Syrian antiquity, and a commentary on Syria’s long journey into its present disaster. Sahner offers a unique perspective as an academic with a strong grasp […]

Read the full article →

Bilyana LillyRussian Foreign Policy toward Missile Defense: Actors, Motivations, and Influence

February 5, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Russian and Eurasian Studies] The current conflict in Ukraine has reopened old wounds and brought the complexity of Russia’s relationship with the United States and Europe to the forefront. One of the most important factors in relations between the Kremlin and the West has been the issue of Ballistic Missile Defense, particularly […]

Read the full article →

General Daniel BolgerWhy We Lost: A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

December 12, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in World Affairs] During the past several years, numerous books and articles have appeared that grapple with the legacy and lessons of the recent U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This development should surprise few. The emergence of the jihadist group ISIS in Iraq and Syria raises profound questions about what the U.S. […]

Read the full article →

James GiordanoNeurotechnology in National Security and Defense: Practical Considerations, Neuroethical Concerns

December 4, 2014

Neurotechnology in National Security and Defense: Practical Considerations, Neuroethical Concerns (CRC Press, 2014), edited by Dr. James Giordano, is an impressive collection of essays by authors at the cutting edge of an emerging field which links neuroscience and national security. The book dispels myths that this confluence has solely offensive applications by outlining a variety of […]

Read the full article →

Jacob N. ShapiroThe Terrorist’s Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organizations

November 27, 2014

Jacob N. Shapiro‘s The Terrorist’s Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organizations (Princeton University Press, 2013) is a welcome addition to a field that sometimes depicts terrorist activity as an unfamiliar, idiosyncratic phenomenon. Shapiro convincingly argues that, far from being alien to our everyday experience, many terrorist organizations must necessarily deal with the bureaucracy, infighting, and tradeoffs which permeate familiar […]

Read the full article →

Vahid Brown and Don RasslerFountainhead of Jihad: The Haqqani Nexus, 1973-2012

November 14, 2014

Vahid Brown and Don Rassler‘s Fountainhead of Jihad: The Haqqani Nexus, 1973-2012 (Oxford University Press, 2013) is a meticulously researched and remarkably detailed exposition of the Haqqani network’s growth and ongoing importance among Pakistani militant organizations. Beginning with an expansive history of the Haqqani family’s background, and subsequent emergence as a critical lynchpin in the Pakistani – […]

Read the full article →

Alexander CooleyGreat Game, Local Rules: The New Great Power Contest in Central Asia

November 11, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Russian and Eurasian Studies] Central Asia is one of the least studied and understood regions of the Eurasian landmass, conjuring up images of 19th century Great Power politics, endless steppe, and impenetrable regimes. Alexander Cooley, a professor of Political Science at Barnard College in New York, has studied the five post-Soviet states of […]

Read the full article →

Angela StentThe Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Twentieth-First Century

November 3, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in World Affairs] In 2005, the Comedy Central Network aired an episode of “South Park” in which one of the characters asked if any “Third World” countries other than Russia had the ability to fly a whale to the moon. During a press conference that took place two years later, Russian President Vladimir […]

Read the full article →

Donald HolbrookThe Al-Qaeda Doctrine: The Framing and Evolution of the Leadership’s Public Discourse

October 3, 2014

Donald Holbrook‘s The Al-Qaeda Doctrine: The Framing and Evolution of the Leadership’s Public Discourse (Bloomsbury, 2014) represents a significant scholarly contribution to the study of Al-Qaeda and Islamic terrorism more broadly. Through a remarkably exhaustive, longitudinal study of over 260 public statements from Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden, Dr. Holbrook exposes Al-Qaeda’s ideology, grievances, objectives, and inconsistencies. […]

Read the full article →