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Dying to Serve

Militarism, Affect, and the Politics of Sacrifice in the Pakistan Army


by Maria Rashid

Rs. 995





The Pakistan Army, with its deep roots in the colonial armed forces, relies heavily on certain regions where men have served for generations. These men, their wives and mothers, and the military culture surrounding them are the focus of Maria Rashid’s Dying to Serve, which sensitively examines how the military thrives when so much of its work results in injury, debility, and death. Grounding her study in the famed martial district of Chakwal, she studies affect deployed in recruitment and training practices, as well as management of death and compensation to families. In doing so, she compellingly sets up affective technologies as critical to the appeal of militarism. Maria Rashid is a feminist practitioner, trainer, and researcher in the field of gender, masculinities, and violence.




“This book is the only text on the Pakistan Army that ethnographically focuses on the lives (and deaths) of non-commissioned soldiers. By brilliantly using tropes of paradox and ambivalence, this excellent book tells us a story that interplays between nationalism, sacrifice, and masculinity in contemporary Pakistan. Unlike many renditions on the Pakistani military, this exceptional text enables us to understand the persuasive powers through which this potentially hegemonic entity seeks to create consensus.”

– Kamran Asdar Ali, The University of Texas at Austin


“A good read for those who want to understand militarism in Pakistan as well as why the military has become the center piece of Pakistani society for decades.”

– Shuja Nawaz, Atlantic Council in Washington


“In a book that breaks new ground in scholarship on Pakistani militarism, Maria Rashid explores how the Pakistan Army manages emotions like grief, pride and fear among foot soldiers and their families.”

– Mahvish Ahmad, London School of Economics


“This absorbing and troubling book grapples with the puzzle of how the Pakistani military can hold the devotion and loyalty of so many citizens while promising them endless wars, death, and impairment. Rashid’s thoughtful and at times harrowing account draws on sensitive ethnography with families of martyrs and unprecedented access to military ceremonies to weave a persuasive argument about the power of martyrdom and ritualistic mourning as technologies of rule.”

– Laleh Khalili, Queen Mary University of London


“As one of the first detailed anthropological studies on the cultural, social and affective aspects of militarism, Dying to Serve enriches the existing literature on the political economy of militarism. It is the first book that shows the complex inter-linkages between the realms of the social, cultural and affective on the one hand, and the economic, political and strategic aspects of militarism on the other, revealing that the latter are tied to and dependent upon the former. Dying to Serve is a very engaging read which appeals simultaneously to the heart and to the mind – it makes one reflect as well as feel. It combines intellectual detachment about militarism with an emotional attachment with those who die to make us live.”

– Rubina Saigol, Independent Researcher


“Maria Rashid conducts an intimate and layered ethnography of militarism and death in Pakistan, with a focus on the lives, aspirations, and tragedies of soldiers and their families in rural Punjab. Theoretically incisive, ethnographically charged, and politically urgent, Dying to Serve is a landmark publication in the study of South Asia, Pakistan, and modern militarism that is destined to become a classic.”

– Sher Ali Tareen, Franklin and Marshall College


“Ethnographic studies of military organizations are extremely rare due to the excessive secrecy of the defense sector, but Maria Rashid is able to demonstrate why and how gender is so central to this web of institutional and ideological power. This is a unique contribution to critical studies of contemporary militarism as a global phenomenon. This highly original study shows that we can learn about the appeal of military service by engaging with those who stand to lose the most from its allure: the women whose sons and husbands die in uniform.”

– Vron Ware, Kingston University


“Rashid follows families of fallen soldiers, engages them in lengthy conversations, and observes their losses and pain first hand. This is psychologically demanding work and Rashid handles it with a great deal of sensitivity. Her account is full of sharp insights, deeply thoughtful observations, and grapples with questions that books on militaries typically forget to ask. Its extensive field research and refreshing approach make Dying to Serve one of the best recent books written on the Pakistan Army. It also represents a valuable contribution to the broader literature on the politics of the military.”

– Amit Ahuja, University of California – Santa Barbara


“A compelling account of how micro-level developments fit with the broader pursuit of the Pakistan Army’s agenda and narrative, Dying to Serve should be compulsory reading for students and scholars of the army, politics and nationalism…”

– Asma Faiz, Lahore University Of Management Sciences

ISBN: 978-969-7834-32-7
Publisher: Folio Books
Binding: Paperback
Release date: September 15, 2021
Rights: World
Pages: 288
Availability: In Stock