Between Cultural and Personal Representational Worlds
This chapter follows Baryalay, a college-educated man in his early thirties who hails from, and still lives in, a volatile rural village in Nangarhar province, marred by the conflict between the insurgent Taliban, the Islamic State, and the Afghan government. The chapter introduces the concept of self-representation, as the locus where different, even conflicting, self-images and subjective states find coherence and eventually lead to the “illusion” of the unity of the self. Baryalay in fact has to struggle between his concurrent identifications as a pacha (a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad), and as a Pashtun, which hold at times contrasting social requirements in terms of appropriate masculinity. Additionally, via the analysis of the personal experiences that Baryalay had in a geographical area of intense violent conflict and intimate danger, the chapter also elaborates on the way in which forty years of continuous war have considerably changed the understanding and performance of masculinity among Pashtun men.
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