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Faraway Siblings, So Close: Ephemeral conviviality across the Wakhan divide

  • TILL MOSTOWLANSKY (a1)
Abstract

In this article, I set out to explore the possibility of a shared life between two places in the highlands of Pakistan and Tajikistan—a region dissected by Afghanistan's narrow Wakhan corridor, by present-day nation-state boundaries, by historical divisions between Central and South Asia, and by a former Cold War frontier. Moving away from a take on conviviality as specifically tied to urban spaces and face-to-face encounters, I attempt to trace the processes that determine the coming and going of shared modes of being. In doing so, I first situate the two places—Karimabad and Khorog—in their respective post-Cold War borderlands and point to their historically ambivalent status as ‘marginal’ places at the frontier, culturally diverse ‘hubs’, and sites of globalization. Then I analyse the historical build-up—material and ideological—that led to the establishment of specific forms of connection and disconnection between the two places. In the last part of the article, I discuss how people in and from Karimabad and Khorog seek out opportunities to attain shared instances of common sociality, which often remain ephemeral and subject to regimes of power. Finally, I argue that the cases of these two ‘marginal hubs’ highlight the importance of looking beyond the conventional ‘imperial centre’ when debating the dynamics that lead people to desire, create, and abandon ties across difference.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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* This article is based on repeated fieldwork stays in Tajikistan from 2008 to 2013, and in Pakistan from 2012 to 2015. All interlocutors have been anonymized, with pseudonyms used in place of their real names. My heartfelt thanks go to them, and to Brook Bolander, Brian Donahoe, Magnus Marsden, Madeleine Reeves, and the four anonymous reviewers for their valuable feedback. I would furthermore like to express my gratitude to Daniel Beben for important insights regarding Nasir-i Khusraw. For comments on an earlier version of this article, I am also deeply indebted to the members of the Religion & Globalization cluster at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, as well as to the participants of the workshop ‘Conviviality Beyond the Urban Centre: Theorizing the “Marginal Hub”’ at the 2016 InterAsian Connections V conference in Seoul. I would also like to thank the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, The University of Hong Kong, for support throughout the writing process and the Swiss National Science Foundation (PZ00P1_174163) for making this open access publication possible.

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1 Gilroy, P., After Empire: Melancholia or Convivial Culture?, Routledge, London, 2004, p. 162. See also Amin, A., Land of Strangers, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2012. Bell, A., ‘Decolonizing Conviviality and Becoming Ordinary: Cross-Cultural Face-To-Face Encounters in Aotearoa, New ZealandEthnic and Racial Studies 39 (7), 2016, pp. 11701186. Brudvig, I., Conviviality in Bellville: An Ethnography of Space, Place, Mobility and Being in Urban South Africa, Langaa, Bamenda, 2014. Freitag, U., ‘Cosmopolitanism and Conviviality? Some Conceptual Considerations Concerning the Late Ottoman EmpireEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies 17 (4), 2014, pp. 375391. Gilroy, P., Postcolonial Melancholia, Columbia University Press, New York, 2005. Overing, J. and Passes, A., ‘Preface’ in The Anthropology of Love and Anger: The Aesthetics of Conviviality in Native Amazonia, Overing, J. and Passes, A. (eds.), Routledge, London, 2000. Padilla, B., Azevedo, J., and Olmos-Alcaraz, A., ‘Superdiversity and Conviviality: Exploring Frameworks for Doing Ethnography in Southern European Intercultural CitiesEthnic and Racial Studies 38 (4), 2015, pp. 621635. Wise, A. and Velayutham, S., ‘Conviviality in Everyday Multiculturalism: Some Brief Comparisons between Singapore and SydneyEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies 17 (4), 2014, pp. 406430.

2 Marsden, M., Trading Worlds: Afghan Merchants Across Modern Frontiers, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2016, p. 290.

3 See Chari, S. and Verdery, K., ‘Thinking Between the Posts: Postcolonialism, Postsocialism, and Ethnography after the Cold WarComparative Studies in Society and History 51 (1), 2009, pp. 634. Kwon, H., The Other Cold War, Columbia University Press, New York, 2010. Marsden, M. and Hopkins, B. D., Fragments of the Afghan Frontier, Hurst, London, 2011. Mostowlansky, T., ‘Building Bridges across the Oxus: Language, Development and Globalization at the Tajik-Afghan Frontier’, International Journal of the Sociology of Language 247, 2017.

4 For a detailed overview of existing studies on the borderlands, see Kreutzmann, H., Pamirian Crossroads: Kirgiz and Wakhi of High Asia, Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden, 2015. For broader takes on transregional integration, see Laruelle, M., Peyrouse, S., Huchet, J., and Balci, B. (eds.), China and India in Central Asia: A New ‘Great Game’?, Palgrave, New York, 2010. Laruelle, M. and Peyrouse, S. (eds.), Mapping Central Asia: Indian Perceptions and Strategies. Ashgate, Farnham and Burlington, 2011.

5 Exceptions focusing on the broader region include Kreutzmann, Pamirian Crossroads. Levi-Sanchez, S., The Afghan-Central Asia Borderland: The State and Local Leaders, Routledge, London and New York, 2017. Manetta, E., ‘Journey into Paradise: Tajik Representations of Afghan BadakhshanCentral Asian Survey 30 (4), 2011, pp. 371387. Marsden, M., ‘Muslim Cosmopolitans? Transnational Life in Northern PakistanThe Journal of Asian Studies 67 (1), 2008, pp. 213247. A. Remtilla, ‘Re-Producing Social Relations: Political and Economic Change and Islam in Post-Soviet Tajik Ishkashim’, PhD diss., University of Manchester, 2012. A. Rippa, ‘Across the Khunjerab Pass: A Rhizomatic Ethnography along the Karakoram Highway, between Xinjiang (China) and Pakistan’, PhD diss., University of Aberdeen, 2015. Steinberg, J., Ismaʼili Modern: Globalization and Identity in a Muslim Community, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2011.

6 van Schendel, W., ‘Geographies of Knowing, Geographies of Ignorance: Jumping Scale in Southeast AsiaEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space 20, 2002, pp. 647668. James Scott's use of van Schendel's ‘Zomia’ has attained particular prominence over the past couple of years (see Scott, J. C., The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2009). In this article, I will not follow Scott, whose approach is highly specific to Southeast Asia and focuses on ‘state evasion’, but van Schendel's conceptualization of ‘Zomia’, which reaches out into the highlands of Central Asia in the form of the so-called Zomia+ (see Michaud, J., ‘Editorial: Zomia and BeyondJournal of Global History 5 (2), 2010, pp. 187214). See also Marsden's ‘Muslim Cosmopolitans’, which looks at interactions between people from Chitral (Pakistan), Afghanistan, and Tajikistan precisely from this perspective.

7 Tsing, A. L., Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection, Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford, 2005, p. 57.

8 See Brenner, N., ‘Between Fixity and Motion: Accumulation, Territorial Organization and the Historical Geography of Spatial ScalesEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space 16, 1998, pp. 459481. Brenner, N., ‘The Urban Question as a Scale Question: Reflections on Henri Lefebvre, Urban Theory and the Politics of ScaleInternational Journal of Urban and Regional Research 24 (2), 2000, pp. 361378.

9 Appadurai, A., The Future as Cultural Fact: Essays on the Global Condition, Verso, London and New York, 2013.

10 See Owen Hughes, D., ‘Introduction’ in Time: Histories and Ethnologies, Owen Hughes, D. and Trautmann, T. R. (eds.), The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1995, pp. 118. Owen Hughes advocates a careful and nuanced treatment of the relationship between historiography and historical time. For studies critically questioning particular periodizations in Central Asia and Pakistan, see, for example, Beyer, J., The Force of Custom: Law and Ordering of Everyday Life in Kyrgyzstan, University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, 2016. Ibañez-Tirado, D., ‘“How Can I Be Post-Soviet if I Was Never Soviet?”: Rethinking Categories of Time and Social Change, a Perspective from Kulob, Southern TajikistanCentral Asian Survey 34 (2), 2015, pp. 190203. Magnus, M., ‘Southwest and Central Asia: Comparison, Integration or Beyond?’ in The Sage Handbook of Social Anthropology, Volume I, Fardon, R. et al. (eds.), Sage, London, 2012, pp. 340365. Mostowlansky, T., ‘Where Empires Meet: Orientalism and Marginality at the Former Russo-British FrontierEtude de lettres 2–3, 2014, pp. 179196. Reeves, M., Border Work: Spatial Lives of the State in Rural Central Asia, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 2014. Sökefeld, M., ‘From Colonialism to Postcolonial Colonialism: Changing Modes of Domination in the Northern Areas of PakistanThe Journal of Asian Studies 64 (4), 2005, pp. 939973.

11 Horstmann, A. and Wadley, R. L., ‘Introduction: Centering the Margin in Southeast Asia’ in Centering the Margin: Agency and Narrative in Southeast Asian Borderlands, Horstmann, A. and Wadley, R. L. (eds.), Berghahn, New York, 2006, pp. 124.

12 Wheeler, C., ‘Maritime Subversions and Socio-Political Formations in Vietnamese History: A Look from the Marginal Center (mien Trung)’ in New Perspectives on the Historiography of Southeast Asia: Continuing Explorations, Aung-Thwin, M. A. and Hall, K. R. (eds.), Routledge, London, 2011, pp. 141156.

13 Harvey, P. and Knox, H., ‘The Enchantments of InfrastructureMobilities 7 (4), 2012, pp. 521536. Reeves, M., ‘Infrastructural Hope: Anticipating “Independent Roads” and Territorial Integrity in Southern KyrgyzstanEthnos, 82 (4), 2017, pp. 711737.

14 Marsden, Trading Worlds, p. xi, points to the salience of Afghanistan and overland travel in the work of the Indian Muslim philosopher Muhammad Iqbal. Iqbal, whose work still widely reverberates in today's Pakistan, advances the notion of Muslim selfhood as mobile, often distinguishing between sea travel as tied to colonialism and overland routes as more authentic. In this regard, Javed Majeed also argues that Iqbal, himself a pivotal figure in Pakistan's emergence as an Islamic polity, saw migration, and the journey more generally, as a founding act of the self, paralleling the hijra from Medina to Mecca. See Majeed, J., ‘Muhammad Iqbal: Islam, Aesthetics and Postcolonialism’ in Postcolonialism and Islam: Theory, Literature, Culture, Society and Film, Nash, G., Kerr-Koch, K., and Hackett, S. E. (eds.), Routledge, London and New York, 2015, p. 40, as well as Majeed, J., Muhammad Iqbal: Islam, Aesthetics and Postcolonialism, Routledge, New Delhi, 2009, pp. 90115.

15 See, for example, Mostowlansky, ‘Building Bridges’ on Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

16 Reeves, ‘Infrastructural Hope’, p. 717.

17 Kreutzmann, H., ‘Preservation of Gilgit-Baltistan's Cultural Heritage as a Key to Development’ in Preservation of Built Environment and Its Impact on Community Development in Gilgit-Baltistan, Kreutzmann, H. (ed.), Centre for Development Studies, Berlin, 2013, p. 22. The last census dates to 1998 and more recent population figures are not readily available. However, there is an ongoing 2017 census whose results have not yet been published at the time of writing.

18 Daftary, F., The Isma'ilis: Their History and Doctrines, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2007. Steinberg, Ismaʼili Modern. Mukherjee, S., Ismailism and Islam in Modern South Asia: Community and Identity in the Age of Religious Internationals, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2017.

19 Mostowlansky, T., ‘Development Institutions and Religious Networks in the Pamirian Borderlands’ in Routledge Handbook of Asian Borderlands, Horstmann, A., Saxer, M., and Rippa, A. (eds.), Routledge, London and New York, 2018, pp. 385395. Poor, D. M., Authority without Territory: The Aga Khan Development Network and the Ismaili Imamate, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2014. Ruthven, M., ‘The Aga Khan Development Network and Institutions’ in A Modern History of the Ismailis: Continuity and Change in a Muslim Community, Daftary, F. (ed.), I.B. Tauris, London and New York, pp. 189220.

20 Daftary, The Isma'ilis, p. 495.

21 Stellrecht, I., ‘Passage to Hunza: Route Nets and Political Process in a Mountain State’ in Karakoram in Transition: Culture, Development, and Ecology in the Hunza Valley, Kreutzmann, H. (ed), Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006, pp. 191216.

22 Kreutzmann, H., ‘The Karakoram Highway: The Impact of Road Construction on Mountain SocietiesModern Asian Studies 25 (4), 1991, pp. 711736. Rippa, ‘Across the Khunjerab Pass’.

23 Kreutzmann, ‘Preservation of Gilgit-Baltistan’, p. 14.

24 Bloch, M., ‘The Past and the Present in the PresentMan 12 (2), 1997, pp. 278292.

25 Munn, N. D., ‘The Cultural Anthropology of Time: A Critical EssayAnnual Review of Anthropology 21, 1992, p. 114.

26 Sökefeld, ‘From Colonialism to Postcolonial Colonialism’.

27 Hussain, S., Remoteness and Modernity: Transformation and Continuity in Northern Pakistan, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2015. Mostowlansky, ‘Where Empires Meet’.

28 Kreutzmann, H., Hunza: Ländliche Entwicklung im Karakoram, Dietrich Reimer Verlag, Berlin, 1989.

29 Kreutzmann, ‘Preservation of Gilgit-Baltistan’, p. 14.

30 Bliss, F., Social and Economic Change in the Pamirs (Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan), Routledge, London and New York, 2006, p. 73. M. A. Bubnova, Istoriia Gorno-Badakhshanskoi avtonomnoi oblasti: S drevneishikh vremen do noveishego perioda, Vol. I, Paivand, Dushanbe, 2005, p. 369. Morrison, A., The Russian Conquest of Central Asia: A Study in Imperial Expansion, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, forthcoming.

31 Morrison, The Russian Conquest.

32 Mostowlansky, T., Azan on the Moon: Entangling Modernity along Tajikistan's Pamir Highway, University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, 2017. N. A., 70-sol shahri Khorugh, Dushanbe, Ma'rifat, 2002.

33 Bliss, Social and Economic Change, pp. 297–343.

34 Mostowlansky, ‘Building Bridges’. Remtilla, ‘Re-Producing Social Relations’.

35 Kraudzun, T., ‘From the Pamir Frontier to International Borders: Exchange Relations of the Borderland Population’ in Subverting Borders: Doing Research on Smuggling and Small-Scale Trade, Bruns, B. and Miggelbrink, J. (eds.), VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden, 2011, pp. 171191. Mostowlansky, T., ‘The Road Not Taken: Enabling and Limiting Mobility in the Eastern PamirsInternationales Asienforum/International Quarterly for Asian Studies 45 (1–2), 2014, pp. 153170.

36 Tsing, Friction, p. 58.

37 Sökefeld, M., ‘Bālāwaristān and Other Imaginations: A Nationalist Discourse in the Northern Areas of Pakistan’ in Ladakh: Culture, History and Development between Himalaya and Karakoram, van Beek, M., Brix Bertelsen, K., and Pedersen, P. (eds.), Aarhus University Press, Aarhus, 1999, pp. 350368.

38 Steinberg, Isma ʼili Modern, p. 10.

39 The use of the term afghon in Khorog is ambiguous. It refers to citizens of Afghanistan more generally, including Pamir language-speakers just across the border river, but can also be used more specifically to denote people coming from other parts of Afghanistan to Shughnan (including Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks, and so on). In the historical narrative discussed here, the latter is the case—that is, it evokes the notion of outsiders invading the region.

40 D. Beben, ‘Local Narratives of the Great Game in Badakhshan’, unpublished manuscript. Morrison, The Russian Conquest.

41 Beben, ‘Local Narratives’. Bubnova, Istoriia Gorno-Badakhshanskoi avtonomnoi oblasti, p. 356.

42 Kassymbekova, B., Despite Cultures: Early Soviet Rule in Tajikistan, University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, 2016. Saxer, M., ‘A Spectacle of Maps: Cartographic Hope and Anxieties in the PamirsCross-Currents 21, 2016, pp. 111136.

43 Bergne, P., The Birth of Tajikistan: National Identity and the Origins of the Republic, I.B. Tauris, London, 2007, p. 99. Kraudzun, ‘From the Pamir Frontier to International Borders’. D. Straub, ‘The Ismailis and Kirghiz of the Upper Amu Darya and Pamirs in Afghanistan: A Micro-History of Delineating International Borders’, MA thesis, Indiana University, 2013.

44 Sökefeld, ‘From Colonialism to Postcolonial Colonialism’, p. 944.

45 Dani, A. H., History of Northern Areas of Pakistan, National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research, Islamabad, 1991, p. 273.

46 Dani, History of Northern Areas, p. 283. Huttenback, R., ‘The Great Game in the Pamirs and Hindukush: The British Conquest of Hunza and NagarModern Asian Studies 9 (1), 1975, pp. 129.

47 Sökefeld, M., ‘Jang Azadi: Perspectives on a Major Theme in Northern Areas History’ in The Past in the Present: Horizons of Remembering in the Pakistan Himalaya, Stellrecht, I. (ed.), Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, Köln, 1997, pp. 6181. Sökefeld, ‘From Colonialism to Postcolonial Colonialism’.

48 N. K. Ali, ‘States of Struggle: Politics, Religion, and Ecology in the Making of the Northern Areas, Pakistan’, PhD diss., Cornell University, 2009. Ali, N., ‘Poetry, Power, Protest: Reimagining Muslim Nationhood in Northern PakistanComparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 32 (1), 2012, pp. 1324. Haines, C., Nation, Territory and Globalization in Pakistan: Traversing the Margins, Routledge, London, 2012. Hussain, Remoteness and Modernity.

49 Shaw, C., ‘Friendship Under Lock and Key: The Soviet Central Asian Border, 1918–34Central Asian Survey 30 (3–4), 2011, pp. 331348.

50 Bliss, Social and Economic Change. Kraudzun, T., ‘External Support and Local Agency: Uncertain Transformations of Livelihoods in the Pamirian Borderland of Tajikistan’ in Mapping Transition in the Pamirs: Changing Human-Environmental Landscapes, Kreutzmann, H. and Watanabe, T. (eds.), Springer, Dordrecht, 2016, pp. 159179. Mostowlansky, Azan on the Moon. Remtilla, ‘Re-Producing Social Relations’.

51 Reeves, Border Work, p. 114.

52 Robinson, P. and Dixon, J., Aiding Afghanistan: A History of Soviet Assistance to a Developing Country, Columbia University Press, New York, 2013. Nunan, T., Humanitarian Invasion: Global Development in Cold War Afghanistan, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2016.

53 Q. H. Beg, Tarikh-e tamir-e Sentral Jama'atkhana-ye Gilgit (The Construction of the Central Jama'atkhana of Gilgit), no publisher, Baltit, 1967.

54 Hunzai, F. M., ‘A Living Branch of Islam: Ismailis of the Mountains of HunzaOriente Moderno 84, 2004, p. 157.

55 Kreutzmann, Hunza, pp. 162–163. On the history of education in Hunza, see also Benz, A., ‘Education and Development in the Karakorum: Educational Expansion and Its Impact in Gilgit-Baltistan, PakistanErdkunde 67 (2), 2013, pp. 123136.

56 Kreutzmann, Hunza, p. 35.

57 H. Kreutzmann, ‘The Karakoram Highway as a Prime Exchange Corridor Between Pakistan and China’ in Proceedings of the Regional Workshop Integrated Tourism Concepts to Contribute to Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions Gilgit/Pakistan—Kashgar/P.R.China, Oct 8–14, 2008, H. Kreutzmann, G. A. Beg, L. Zhaohui, and J. Richter (eds.), InWEnt, Bonn, 2009, p. 25.

58 Wood, G., Malik, A., and Sagheer, S. (eds.), Valleys in Transition: Twenty Years of AKRSP's Experience in Northern Pakistan, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006.

59 Mostowlansky, T., ‘Humanitarianism across Mountain Valleys: “Shia Aid” and Development Encounters in Northern Pakistan and Eastern Tajikistan’ in Mapping Transition in the Pamirs: Changing Human-Environmental Landscapes, Kreutzmann, H. and Watanabe, T. (eds.), Springer, Dordrecht, 2016, pp. 229244.

60 Gellner, E., Saints of the Atlas, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1969.

61 See also Green, S. F., Notes from the Balkans: Locating Marginality and Ambiguity on the Greek-Albanian Border, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2005.

62 Nourzhanov, K. and Bleuer, C., Tajikistan: A Social and Political History, ANU E Press, Canberra, 2013, pp. 323335.

63 Bliss, Social and Economic Change, p. 4.

64 Human Rights Watch, ‘Tajik Refugees in Northern Afghanistan: Obstacles to Repatriation’, Hrw.org, online: https://www.hrw.org/reports/1996/Tajik.htm (accessed 12 May 2017).

65 Marsden, M., Living Islam: Muslim Religious Experience in Pakistan's North-West Frontier, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2005, p. 40. Marsden and Hopkins, Fragments of the Afghan Frontier, p. 153, note that Pamiris coming to Chitral were not simply displaced persons, but were already connected to the place's culture and history by virtue of their family histories and Ismaili identities.

66 S. Keshavjee, ‘Medicines and Transitions: The Political Economy of Health and Social Change in Post-Soviet Badakhshan, Tajikistan’, PhD diss., Harvard University, 1998. Keshavjee, S., Blind Spot: How Neoliberalism Infiltrated Global Health, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2014.

67 Bliss, Social and Economic Change, p. 4.

68 Bolander, B., ‘English, Motility and Ismaili TransnationalismInternational Journal of the Sociology of Language 247, 2017. Maertens, C., ‘No Debt, No Business: The Personalisation of Market Exchange in Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan’ in Approaching Ritual Economy: Socio-Cosmic Fields in Globalized Contexts, Hardenberg, R. (ed.), RessourcenKulturen, Tübingen, 2017, pp. 159192. Mostowlansky, ‘Building Bridges’.

69 On the processes of universalization that are involved in this regard, see Mukherjee, S., ‘Universalising Aspirations: Community and Social Service in the Isma'ili Imagination in Twentieth-Century South Asia and East Africa’ in The Shi'a in Modern South Asia: Religion, History and Politics, Jones, J. and Qasmi, A. U. (eds.), Cambridge University Press, Delhi, 2015, pp. 105130.

70 Marsden and Hopkins, Fragments of the Afghan Frontier, p. 151.

71 Akhtar, I. S., ‘Religious Citizenship: The Case of the Globalised KhojasAfrican Sociological Review 18 (01), 2014, pp. 27–48. Nanji, A., ‘Khojas’ in Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, Volume I, Martin, R. C. (ed.), Macmillan, New York, 2004, p. 393.

72 For a critique of unequal power relations in this constellation, see Devji, F., ‘Preface’ in The Ismailis in the Colonial Era: Modernity, Empire and Islam, van Grondelle, M., Hurst & Company, London, 2009, pp. ixxvi.

73 Marsden and Hopkins, Fragments of the Afghan Frontier, p. 152.

74 Kreutzmann, Pamirian Crossroads.

75 Pickering, M. and Keightley, E., ‘The Modalities of NostalgiaCurrent Sociology 54 (6), 2006, pp. 919941.

76 Freitag, ‘Cosmopolitanism and Conviviality’, p. 376.

77 Gilroy, After Empire.

78 Herzfeld, M., Cultural Intimacy: Social Poetics in the Nation-State, Routledge, New York, 2005.

79 Hromadžić, A., Citizens of an Empty Nation: Youth and State-Making in Postwar Bosnia Herzegovina, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 2015, p. 142.

80 Ali, ‘States of Struggle’, p. 79.

81 Therborn, G., ‘Entangled ModernitiesEuropean Journal of Social Theory 6 (3), 2003, pp. 293305.

82 Hunsberger, A. C., Nasir Khusraw: The Ruby of Badakhshan, A Portrait of the Persian Poet, Traveller and Philosopher, I.B. Tauris, New York, 2003.

83 D. Beben, ‘The Legendary Biographies of Nasir-i Khusraw: Memory and Texualization in Early Modern Persian Isma'ilism’, PhD diss., Indiana University, 2015, p. 434.

84 Steinberg, Isma ʼili Modern, p. 91.

85 Beben, ‘Legendary Biographies’.

86 See also Iloliev, A., ‘Pirship in Badakhshan: The Role and Significance of the Institute of the Religious Masters (Pirs) in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Wakhan and ShughnanJournal of Shi'a Islamic Studies 6 (2), Spring 2013, pp. 155175.

87 Beben, ‘Legendary Biographies’, pp. 329–332. Elnazarov, H., ‘The Luminous Lamp: The Practice of Chiragh-i rawshan among the Ismailis of Central Asia’ in The Study of Shi'i Islam: History, Theology and Law, Daftary, F. and Miskinzoda, G. (eds.), I.B. Tauris, London and New York, 2014, pp. 529541.

88 Kreutzmann, H., ‘Sprachenvielfalt und regionale Differenzierung von Glaubensgemeinschaften im Hindukusch-KarakorumErdkunde 49 (2), 1995, pp. 106121. Kreutzmann, H., Ethnizität im Entwicklungsprozess: Die Wakhi in Hochasien, Dietrich Reimer Verlag, Berlin, 1996. Kreutzmann, Pamirian Crossroads.

89 R. Davies, ‘Tajikistan Floods: 10000 Forced to Evacuate in Gorno-Badakhshan Region’, Floodlist.com, online: http://floodlist.com/asia/tajikistan-floods-10000-forced-gorno-badakhsan-region (accessed 9 May 2017), 2015. R. Davies, ‘Pakistan Flood: Death Toll Rises to 69’, Floodlist.com, online: http://floodlist.com/asia/pakistan-floods-death-toll-rises-to-69 (accessed 9 May 2017), 2015.

90 Peary, B. D., Shaw, R., and Takeuchi, Y. (2012), ‘Utilization of Social Media in the East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and Its EffectivnessJournal of Natural Disaster Science 34 (1), 2012, p. 6.

91 Hargittai, E. and Hsieh, Y. P., ‘Digital Inequality’ in Oxford Handbook of Internet Studies, Dutton, W. H. (ed.), Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013, pp. 129150. Madianou, M., ‘Digital Inequality and Second Order Disasters: Social Media in the Typhoon Haiyan RecoverySocial Media & Society 1 (2), 2015, pp. 111.

92 Green, S., Harvey, P., and Knox, H., ‘Scales of Place and Networks: An Ethnography of the Imperative to Connect Through Information and Communications TechnologiesCurrent Anthropology 46 (5), 2015, pp. 805826.

93 A. Vervaeck, ‘Massive Earthquake: Murghob, Tajikistan on December 7, 2015’, Earthquake-report.com, online: http://earthquake-report.com/2015/12/07/massive-earthquake-murghob-tajikistan-on-december-7-2015/ (accessed 9 May 2017), 2015.

94 Kuntsman, A., Figurations of Violence and Belonging: Queerness, Migranthood and Nationalism in Cyberspace and Beyond, Peter Lang, Oxford and Bern, 2009, p. 215.

95 Kuntsman, A., ‘Introduction: Affective Fabrics of Digital Cultures’ in Digital Cultures and the Politics of Emotion: Feelings, Affect and Technological Change, Karatzogianni, A. and Kuntsman, A. (eds.), Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke and New York, 2012, p. 6.

96 Green, Harvey, and Knox, ‘Scales of Place’, p. 806.

97 The acronym EDGE stands for ‘Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution’. It is a pre-3G mobile technology that operates at a maximum speed of 217 kilobits per second and thus does not allow people to browse many of the websites that are online today.

98 Bolander, B., ‘English and the Transnational Ismaili Community: Identity, the Aga Khan and InfrastructureLanguage in Society 45, 2016, pp. 583604. Bolander, ‘English, Motility and Ismaili Transnationalism’.

99 Holtzman, J., Uncertain Tastes: Memory, Ambivalence, and the Politics of Eating in Samburu, Northern Kenya, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2009. Sutton, D. E., Remembrance of Repasts: An Anthropology of Food and Memory, Berg, Oxford and New York, 2001.

100 Sutton, Remembrance of Repasts, p. 73.

101 Sutton, Remembrance of Repasts, p. 102.

102 Gilroy, After Empire.

103 Scott, The Art of Not Being Governed.

104 Tsing, A. L., ‘From the MarginsCultural Anthropology 9 (3), 1994, p. 279.

105 Jonsson, H., ‘Above and Beyond: Zomia and the Ethnographic Challenge of/for Regional HistoryHistory and Anthropology 21 (2), 2010, pp. 191212.

* This article is based on repeated fieldwork stays in Tajikistan from 2008 to 2013, and in Pakistan from 2012 to 2015. All interlocutors have been anonymized, with pseudonyms used in place of their real names. My heartfelt thanks go to them, and to Brook Bolander, Brian Donahoe, Magnus Marsden, Madeleine Reeves, and the four anonymous reviewers for their valuable feedback. I would furthermore like to express my gratitude to Daniel Beben for important insights regarding Nasir-i Khusraw. For comments on an earlier version of this article, I am also deeply indebted to the members of the Religion & Globalization cluster at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, as well as to the participants of the workshop ‘Conviviality Beyond the Urban Centre: Theorizing the “Marginal Hub”’ at the 2016 InterAsian Connections V conference in Seoul. I would also like to thank the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, The University of Hong Kong, for support throughout the writing process and the Swiss National Science Foundation (PZ00P1_174163) for making this open access publication possible.

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Modern Asian Studies
  • ISSN: 0026-749X
  • EISSN: 1469-8099
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