Anthropology Study: The Road to Thull

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The Pakistani Government embarked on an ambitious project, building a network of roads to isolated villages and a bus route from Thull to Dir town. This article explains the consequences of the construction.

Interestingly, you would think with the addition of a new info structure, organized vengeance would fade to some sort of degree. This was not case, as the first highway system actually promoted it, linking villagers with a more modern economy and a new political system. Therefore, this new highway triggered sociocultural transitions in Thull that ultimately resulted in Dushmani.

Consequence 1

On the positive side, religious leaders were now able to travel on bus routes to Mardan and Peshawar to further their Islamic studies with Pathan scholars and educators. In turn, the religious leaders brought back a simplified ideology stressing personal honor, honor, and control over women. “They also stressed the importance of Iman, the gift of being Muslim and not being a kafir, a non-Muslim, one who rejected God and was evil and depraved”. Fundamentalist teachings once stressing the importance of saint cults in Islamic beliefs were now deemed a heresy. Purifying the Islamic religion was now a focus. Shrines for saints disappeared in Thull, and any Kohistani that still worshipped or believed in saints, were no better than Kafirs.

Consequence 2

Economic transitions now promoted dushmani in Thull, thus causing a major change and an imbalance between alpine herding and agriculture. Prior to the road, subsistence in Thull depended on herding and agriculture. Now, cultivating potatoes made them economically viable as a cash crop. Furthermore, the trucks transporting the potatoes to Pakistan were relatively inexpensive. Artificial fertilizers were used, therefore reducing the demand for animal manure. Farmers could cultivate more land, however the farmers involved with herding decreased and herding was no longer the primary cash crop. “This led to a reduction in the importance of cross kinship herd groups. Also the conversion of pastures to potato fields.”

Consequence 3

Relationships among members of herding units were less important, therefore resulting in the weakening of crosscutting, giving dushmani the ability to flourish.

Consequence 4

Cultivating potatoes coupled with the new economic system and increased numbers of fields led to an increase in hard cash in the community. Timber exploitation caused the cash flow to expand even further therefore requiring local wage laborers. The community, however, was compensated by the government.

Consequence 5

With wealth came the increase in firearms owned by the members of the community. Poor men were now able to afford guns and rifles, therefore emotions “framed by ghraifrat” and grudges were acted out upon neighbors fueling death enmity. Resource Friend by Day, Enemy by Night: Organized Vengeance in a Kohistani Community

More articles from Lauren:

Anthropology Study: Unbalanced Kinship In The Kohistini Community in Thull

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Lauren Axelrod
Posted on Oct 17, 2010
Kathleen Murphy
Posted on Oct 17, 2010