Academic Commons

Theses Doctoral

States of Honor: Sexual Ethics and the Politics of Promiscuity in Afghanistan

Ahsan, Sonia

This dissertation is based on field-work conducted at a khane-aman (home of peace) in Kabul in 2011-2012. In this dissertation, I have argued that the Afghan state vacillates between a rational-honorable mode and an unintelligible promiscuous mode. In its rational-honorable mode, the state institutes norms and regulations and develops institutional infrastructures for their implementation. The state also manifests another mode, which I am calling a promiscuous mode. To engage in promiscuity is to cater to the basest and most abject fantasies, to indulge in the regions of precariousness and vulnerability. This vacillation produces the Afghan state as both feared and desired, as transparent and opaque. Carnal punishments like flogging or stoning render present the distant force of the law into the context of everyday lives. Here the state takes on a different presence, a promiscuous one, in which the spectacular threat of violence is brought into the midst of the communal formations. Once the state institutes these punishments, it opens up the possibility of misplaced blames and wrongful retribution. It is in these realms of indecorum and solecism that the state reinvents and reveals itself.

Files

  • thumnail for Ahsan_columbia_0054D_12563.pdf Ahsan_columbia_0054D_12563.pdf binary/octet-stream 6.8 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Anthropology
Thesis Advisors
Messick, Brinkley M.
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 10, 2015
Academic Commons provides global access to research and scholarship produced at Columbia University, Barnard College, Teachers College, Union Theological Seminary and Jewish Theological Seminary. Academic Commons is managed by the Columbia University Libraries.