IT WAS A pleasant, balmy evening, with countless rows of chairs laid out in meticulous symmetry on the green expanse of a perfectly manicured lawn at the Pakistan Army General Headquarters (GHQ). The green Pakistan Army emblem lay nestled between the majestic white marble triangles of the Yadgar-e-Shuhada (Martyrs’ Memorial) monument lit in national colors for the evening. The monument rested on a resplendent stage surrounded on all sides by giant elevated screens. Familiar patriotic anthems blared from large speakers, while smartly dressed men and women in army uniforms ushered in an audience of a couple thousand people. The 2015 Youm-e-Difah (YeD; Defense Day), a national military commemorative ceremony, was about to commence.
Having arrived early, I was seated in the press area and noticed that the last enclosure on my right was already full of people. I knew even before I saw the sign reading “NoK” (next of kin) that this was where the families of dead soldiers would be seated, largely because the enclosure was dominated by people from villages—men and women in shalwar kameez (traditional dress consisting of a long shirt over loose trousers) and women with white chaddars (large, often white, cotton cloth) covering their heads and upper bodies. Seated here was the group from the village of Palwal,1 which had lost five young men in military service, three in the ongoing war in northwest Pakistan. They saw me before I saw them, maybe because I stood out from the crowd with my uncovered head and colorful clothes. I went over to say hello, and they seemed pleased to see a familiar face.
Backstage, the scene was somewhat chaotic; some celebrities were getting their makeup done, while others stood to the side, smoking and discussing poetry. There was nervous laughter and some last-minute instructions and script changes. An elderly Baluch man wearing a flowing white traditional headdress was seated silently on the side. He was the father of a dead soldier and was to give his testimony onstage that day. An army officer asked him if he wanted some juice and then told a soldier to make sure he was looked after, as he was their most honored guest. The father seemed very gracious but did not speak much. After a while, he was joined by a middle-aged woman, another dead soldier’s mother, who was also to give her testimony. She too seemed aloof from the rest, who were talking and joking among themselves. Maybe they were tense, maybe they were sad, or maybe they were rehearsing their lines? I wondered if I should sit with them or continue to stand with the organizers and celebrities. I decided instead to leave the now darkened backstage, as the show had begun, and sit with the families from Palwal for the rest of the program, because our locations and vantage points determine not just the scope of what we see but also the atmosphere we breathe.
Near the end of the ceremony, the colorful stage and larger-than-life screens went dark. The music stopped playing, and the master of ceremonies announced to the hushed audience that next onstage would be the mother of a shaheed (martyr). Fathers, widows, daughters, and sons of dead soldiers had already appeared onstage, and the finale in this commemorative ceremony had been reserved for the testimony of the mother. She walked onto the stage and stood confidently at the dais. Her eyes glistened with tears as she spoke lovingly of her son. At times she stopped, took a breath, and visibly steadied herself, but when she spoke her voice did not waver. She spoke with pride and poise, her head held high. Her grief hung in the air, but more touching to watch was her resolve, her ability to stand firm and resolute against the overwhelming loss that this death had brought her. It was a powerful moment. The camera lingered on it and then swung to the audience, where some watched in awe, while others sobbed or cried silently.
I sat with Yasmin, the mother of Nawaz, a young soldier who had died in Wana, South Waziristan, in 2009. As Yasmin watched the mother speaking onstage, I remembered the conversation we’d had back in her village about these testimonies. It had been a sleepy summer afternoon, with the monotonous sound of the village tube well in the background, the mundanity of the scene far removed from the grandeur and drama of our current surroundings. We had been sitting in her courtyard, a house built with money received as compensation for her son’s death, when Yasmin said to me, “The army leaves after the funeral; it doesn’t look back. It throws innocents into battle and says go fight. What do they care? How would they know what happens inside the walls of the home? It is not so easy to accept this; women will say we will send another son into the army.” There was a short silence and then her voice had floated through the haze of the warm sun. “I don’t know who these women are.”
When the mother onstage made the predictable offering of another son, Yasmin turned to me with a raised eyebrow and a shake of her head and said, “Look how easily she says it.” Her smile was rueful, and I wondered if she too remembered our earlier discussion. Here, within the hush of the NoKs enclosure, the rhetoric of continued sacrifice for the nation—the section of the show that held the most resonance for the rest of the audience—seemed to reverberate the least and invoked cynicism.
I felt surprised, a sense of uncanniness heightened by the dramatic affective register onstage and the response it seemed to invoke within spectators in enclosures that watched these performances (and wars) from afar. The surprise was directed not at what was unfolding before me, for tales of glory, heroism, and willing sacrifice woven around the dead in battle are nothing new. What intrigued me instead was not just the recognition of the farce-like nature of the spectacle before us within the row upon ceaseless row of the families of the military dead but also the impulse of these families to lend themselves to these orchestrations around death.
How does the military retain its power when it all but guarantees the death of its subjects? What compels grieving families to stand within these commemorative spaces? What does an investment in these spectacles of mourning, which demand the affirmation of militarism from subjects who have suffered a substantial loss, tell us about the nature of modern militarism? These questions not only allude to statecraft and the utility of these spectacles in sustaining militarism but also bring into focus subjects of militarism and the uneven, seemingly antithetical practices that define them. Answering these questions demands an investigation of the YeD shows and what lies beyond their blinding stages—the discourse, policies, and practices of the military that tie soldiers, their families, the nation, and the army together in a narrative that channels affect and sensibilities. This book is my effort to conduct such an investigation.
The current world climate is marked by the ordinariness and banality of war and conflict. Militarism is no longer just the more distinct experiences of war and political violence—distinct in that they can to an extent be temporally and geographically bound—but altogether a more pervasive phenomenon. It is now defined by the existence of massive armies, paramilitaries, and military contractors; production and accumulation of arms; growing state ability for surveillance; use of militarized imagery in popular culture; militarization of university and research agendas; making of national histories to glorify military action; and belief that military efficiency is integral to state survival and security.2 The ease with which wars can be waged in the modern world demands an extension of the study of militarism to beyond macrolevel analyses that traditionally have looked for grand narratives and explanations in historical, political, economic, and technological shifts.3 Catherine Lutz’s work on the permeation of military life into contemporary American society nudges us in this direction.4 She suggests that we live in a state of “permanent war,” with the citizenry and state always prepared and in which the war terrain is not just the battlefield but also the home front that requires “cultural deployments, affective munitions and mental recruitment.”5 The relentless expansion of the military to newer domains of life that are informed by a military worldview and by military values and technologies would suggest that militarism diffuses and thus shapes lives and spaces around it. A sociological phenomenon, it penetrates social structures, relations, and practices including popular culture, modes of economic production, and hierarchies of race, class, gender, and sexuality.6
In trying to trace this process of infection outward, this book affixes its gaze on to the military as an institution, the affective bonds it cultivates with soldiers and their families, and the function of these relationships in fashioning the appeal and presence of militarism in modern society. The study of militarism in this book foregrounds an intimate aspect of war preparation, namely the production of the instruments and then subjects of violence: military soldiers and their families. The figure of the mother on the magnificent stage at the YeD ceremony offering another son as cannon fodder and the overflowing mass of people in the NoK enclosure hint at the tragedy of death in war as well as at the casualness of life, the apparent ease with which it is offered to the military. These are subjects of violence that are willing to endure violence not only to their bodies but also to the bodies of those they love. For any definition of militarism to hold, it must consider the complicity of large numbers of soldiers and their families in these projects of war and their apparent willingness to suffer violence. This attention to the complicity of subjects of militarism is important for obvious instrumental reasons, because standing armies are integral to the ability of militarism to thrive, and they will be for some time to come. Understanding this complicity is also necessary for grasping the symbolic significance of these relationships and associated claims for the need to sacrifice and die for the nation-state. The YeD ceremony also holds thousands who watch as spectators and through their affective responses become locked in an emotive relationship with war, violence, and the military. These soldiers and their families are then subjects of militarism who stand at the center of war, making it not only possible but also worthwhile.
The nation-state of Pakistan has had its fair share of wars—internal and otherwise—since its formation after the partition of British India in 1947. This has included four cross-border wars with India, countless anti-insurgency operations within the country, covert involvement and support of the Afghan Mujahideen during the 1980s, regular deployment of troops in combat missions abroad, and the more recent conflict within its own northwestern regions as a key ally in the global war on terror (WOT). This penchant for war demands a ready and replenishable supply of troops, and yet the Pakistan Army has never had to resort to conscription and remains an all-volunteer force. According to 2004–2013 Pakistan Army Induction Data, an average of over 130,000 young men apply every year, of which only 38,000 are selected.7 The voluntary nature of enlistment in the nonconscription military of Pakistan has often been explained as a function of economic desperation. In the rain-fed hilly tracts of Punjab—famed martial districts cultivated by the British Indian Army and subsequently by the Pakistani military—historical proclivity has also been cited as reason.8 Successful patterns of military recruitment in other provinces and districts post the national integration policy announced in 2001, and, most importantly, the Pakistani military’s emphasis on maintaining a certain appeal and image of the force hints at other explanations as well.
This desire to enlist and the apparent enthusiasm for war have been carefully honed over the seventy-one years since Pakistan’s genesis. The military in Pakistan—more specifically, the Pakistan Army9—has ruled directly for roughly half of Pakistan’s existence and indirectly for the rest of the time through the domination of defense and foreign policy and the manipulation of domestic politics. The boundaries between military and civil-political institutions is ever shifting, although rarely in favor of civilian dominance, and the military continues to stand as one of the most powerful institutions in the country, where it has had a de facto role in politics whether it is directly in power or there is civilian rule.10 The military’s ability to take up political space has been attributed to a number of factors, including its postcolonial history, with its hyperdeveloped Punjabi military apparatus that has been strengthened above and at the cost of other state institutions; its geostrategic importance during and after the Cold War; and its growing economic empire.11
To understand the Pakistani military’s hold over the imagination and loyalty of Pakistani society requires changing our focus from the coercive power of the military that’s on display every time a military regime takes over to its ability to shape sympathy and opinion during as well as after military regimes leave. This is not to suggest that coercive power is not a primary determinant in the Pakistani military’s hold over populations or that resistance to the military’s intrusion into civilian domains does not exist. The intent here, though, is to identify the more insidious ways that the military and its norms and aesthetics make their way into Pakistani society. This allows for an examination of how the military “produces politics rather than how it is related to it” (emphasis in original).12 In doing so, the book turns away from attempts to decipher the much-studied and debated whys of the military’s dominance in Pakistan and instead contributes to an understanding of the hows by which the military creates its image as an institution that demands reverence and allows docile populations to emerge.13
Militarism’s forays into Pakistani society are visible in social studies textbooks that glorify war and valorize Muslim warriors of an imagined past as well as military soldiers who seek martyrdom and to defend their country against traitors looking to dismantle the nation.14 Popular culture, songs, images, and literary texts further exalt militarist nationalism, and national rituals are replete with military symbols.15 A well-known war song popularized in the 1965 war with India glorifies the military dead in battle:
Oh, martyrs in the path of righteousness
pictures of faith
the daughters and mother of the land salute you16
Imaginings of the soldier and model citizen are heavily gendered. Masculine men protect the nation and the women, who are repositories of national honor. The latter in turn serve the nation by not only producing these soldiers but exalting and praising the men who die in wars to protect the nation.17 Rubina Saigol suggests that “this form of complementary visualization of masculinity and femininity enables warlike nationalism to be imbibed by the citizenry which feels empowered by vicarious participation in the state’s nationalist triumphs” (emphasis in the original).18
The militaristic state is scripted not just in songs and literature but also in physical spaces. Killing machines such as guns, missiles, fighter jets, and submarines, including the hills where Pakistan conducted its first nuclear tests, are inscribed into the daily lives of people as monuments in civilian public spaces.19 Pakistan Day is commemorated by holding a military parade every year on March 23, which marks the anniversary of the passing of the Lahore Resolution in 1940 by the All India Muslim League. The practice of commemorating a designated national day that has little to do with military force or war by holding a military parade lends itself to a reading of how the state and society within Pakistan are militarized. The event—a display of military strength with troops from all three forces, the Pakistan Army, Navy, and Air Force—also includes an air show depicting the prowess of fighter jets and other military aircraft and a showcase of diverse arenas of military technology, including telecommunication, arms, and ammunition. It is attended avidly by civilians and telecast live across the nation. Other, even more visible faces of the military in civilian society are its involvement in rescue operations after natural disasters and in law-and-order assignments in which they are tasked with controlling political upheavals. (Civilian governments in the past have called on the military instead of on civilian law enforcements to do this job.)20 The Pakistan Armed Forces are also called on to use their superior organizational and technological resources for public-welfare projects such as building roads, bridges, and so on.21 In 2018, the military, on the request of the Election Commission of Pakistan, dispatched as many as 371,000 troops (including reservists and retired soldiers) to over 85,000 polling stations across the country to assist with the election process.22 All this and more, including the military’s propensity to set itself up as a religiously motivated force, allows the military to bill itself as the defender of Pakistan’s physical borders as well as its “ideological frontiers,” an ethos that is often repeated within military discourse.23 The role of the military in Pakistan extends and spills over into political and social spaces in which it positions itself as a savior, the ultimate guarantor of the permanence and continuity of the state, while various democratic and military regimes come and go.
Sociological and anthropological accounts of the military institution in Pakistan are rare. Scholarship has attempted to shed light on the military’s internal mechanisms, such as recruitment and training practices, but this focus has been at best tangential to the commentary on its political positioning.24 This book is a study of the complex ideological processes that fuel and sustain the appeal of the military in the general public, namely, how the hegemonic power of the military diffuses through the lives and deaths of people that are made visible and notable within national imaginings. Building on Foucauldian notions of governmentality, the book foregrounds affect as a technology of rule in which statecraft is invested in governing both the polity and the affective selves of subjects.25 It contends that the Pakistani military’s ability to access political space depends in part on its ability to produce certain kinds of political and affective subjects such as Yasmin, Nawaz, and the sentimental audience of the YeD shows. These subjects of militarism are made possible through a set of gendered governing policies around recruitment, training, and the management of death and compensation. These policies are formed within military strongholds such as the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and subsequently play out in a series of intimate exchanges with the soldiers and their families, within military recruitment training centers and the rural environs in which the military recruits its seemingly inexhaustible workforce. Although the military uses many ways to capture the imagination and loyalties of its subjects, this book examines the role of affect—such as grief and its accompanying notions of death, dying, and sacrifice as well as feelings of attachment, pride, and fear—in maintaining the military’s hegemony in Pakistan.
The presence of sentiment within state and military narratives has been explained as ruse, propaganda (to fuel war rhetoric), or a form of paternalistic governance that uses familial analogies to define the relationship between the rulers and ruled.26 These theorizations, which situate affect within governance as an embellishment, only partially explain the critical role of affect as a medium that allows power to diffuse through society.27
In this book, I offer affect as an analytical lens to understand subject formation or, more specifically, as a technology of rule that can be employed by the military to create subjects both immediate (soldiers and families) and secondary (civilian populations). The state in this reading is not averse to sentiment but actively produces affective subjects28 that imbibe the state’s (and in this case, the military’s) concerns and aesthetics through the control of both affective excess (such as intense grief) and affective absence (such as apathy toward military dead). The military controls, suppresses, or invokes all sorts of affect, such as grief, fear, attachment, and loyalty, in its subjects through a host of meaning-making processes including commemorative spectacles as well as policies and practices of recruitment, training, and compensation. Governmentality becomes an exercise of power that involves “the conduct of conduct” by which subjects are produced through the management of individual behavior29 and in which consent to domination is made possible “by shaping appropriate and reasoned affect, by directing affective judgments, by severing some affective bonds and establishing others, . . . in short, by educating the proper distribution of sentiments and desires.”30 These gendered governing practices are pivotal in sustaining collusive relationships between those who stand to suffer significant losses (soldiers and their families) and those who stand to gain (the military institution)—relationships cultivated not only to replenish rank and file but also to serve as conduits for communication with the citizenry.
A number of terms have been used within scholarship on affect, including feelings, sentiments, passions, and the two most commonly used, emotion and affect.31 Capable of contagion and less easily externally driven, affect is used as a broader framework within the study and concerns the more embodied, unformed, autotelic, abiding, and labile aspect of human feeling.
Reading the relationships between the military and its subjects through the lens of affect makes visible the ways that subjects negotiate the overwhelming power of the institution. That these relationships also allow for disengagement from the project of militarism, defined as thoughts or acts by soldiers or families that challenge or deny the demands of the nation-state for sacrifice, is apparent in the opening vignette.32 I encountered many such moments in my fieldwork: when a mother in vaen (a Punjabi mourning ritual) sat at her son’s grave and wished he had died when he was a baby, when a soldier in training discussed the conscious process of becoming a mindless automaton, and when a father said to me that he told the colonel he would send his other son to the army because he felt he had to, almost like a platitude. These were hard-earned testimonies, for as I started my fieldwork in villages in Punjab and institutes of the military, the cacophony of voices that reached me was full of familiar narratives of willing service and sacrifice. During my fieldwork they seemed like significant moments, moments in which I felt I was hearing the authentic from my interlocutors, but over time their remarkableness lessened for me, and I became more interested in how pieces of narratives were joined together. The intricate lacing together of complicit and subversive narratives allowed the emergence of an ambivalent subject in which contradictions are experienced not as discordant notes but instead as a mosaic of affective experiences and states that these subjects identify with and accept as their lives.
The study of such ambivalences and disengagement within the operation of hegemonic power, the ability of the soldier to be the knowing automaton and of the father and mother to be both sacrificing and cynical, requires a theorizing of affect that can explain them. Reducing this analysis to theoretical positions that suggest the possibility of affective freedoms and see affect either as a prediscursive state existing outside social signification or as a straightforward mechanism that consolidates hegemonic power would be a disservice.33 The book sets up the potential of affect to both affix relationships of oppression and provide cathexis to resist or oppose these relationships. For this, we may need to reimagine relations between human beings and space as irreducible to the interpretations that we as human beings project onto them. A more object-centered perspective would allow us to acknowledge the existence of something beyond human imagination that rests within the environment and material objects that produce an affect experienced by us.34 This view challenges the traditional psychoanalytical association made between affective realm and human subjectivity, in which “affective possibility and potentiality” lie only within the inner world of human beings.35 The alternative to this is the suggestion that the psyche is constructed and resides within discourse in the Foucauldian sense, in which the inside is reduced to an effect and subjectivity is an outcome of practices of governmentality that produce the subject. Perhaps the answer lies in placing ourselves between the traditions and disciplines that turn inward and theoretical frameworks that extend outward. In doing so, as Yael Navaro-Yashin suggests, “the purpose is not to privilege a new theory of affect against previous constructions of subjectivity but to develop a perspective that could be called the affect-subjectivity continuum, one that attends to embroilment of the inner and outer worlds, to their co-dependence and co-determination.”36 The study of affect must include attention to the interiority of affect and to various governmentalizing practices that form the subject. Positioning affect as not purely interior, even as it is not merely bounded within the realm of subjectivity, allows it to also be about affective transmissions between human subjects and their environment, so that interiority and exteriority become indistinguishable. Subjects that embody both disengagement from and complicity with the project of militarism are made possible by the potential of affect to linger and haunt. This allows affect to be produced and harnessed by disciplinary frameworks and at the same time exist outside them, residing in the interiority of the subjects and in their relations with each other and with their physical spaces.
1. Fictitious name given to a village in Chakwal District in Punjab, Pakistan.
2. See Gusterson, “Anthropology and Militarism,” 156.
3. Examples of macrolevel analysis of militarism include Melman, Permanent War Economy; Koistinen, Military Industrial Complex; Kaldor, Baroque Arsenal; Adams, Iron Triangle; Tilly, “War Making and State Making”; Shaw, Dialectics of War; and Kaldor, New and Old Wars.
4. Lutz, Homefront.
5. Lutz, “Military History of the American Suburbs,” 901–3.
6. See Vagts, History of Militarism; Mann, “Roots and Contradictions”; Shaw, Post-Military Society; and Shaw, “Twenty-First Century Militarism.” The gendered working of power, in which militant and violent solutions to conflict are inscribed in institutional practices, is important to highlight here. There is evidence that this attitude, coupled with the valorization of violence, spills into civilian spheres and impacts gender relations. See Chenoy, “Militarization, Conflict, and Women”; Enloe, Maneuvers; and De Mel, Militarizing Sri Lanka.
7. Data provided by the Personnel Administration (PA) Directorate—GHQ, Rawalpindi, January 2015.
8. See Yong, Garrison State.
9. The army, the land-based uniformed force within the Pakistan Armed Forces, is the largest branch of the Pakistani military in terms of manpower and the most powerful in terms of resources, political clout, geographical coverage, and public visibility.
10. See Jalal, State of Martial Law; Nawaz, Crossed Swords; and Shah, Army and Democracy.
11. Scholarship on the military in Pakistan has grappled with explaining the institution’s dominance in the country. Research suggests, however, that one way to understand it is to pay attention to the military’s burgeoning economic empire based on agricultural and property ownership as well as its control of business and industrial enterprises; see Siddiqa, Military Inc. Other theorists lean toward institutional theory and path dependence. They suggest that repeated coups in Pakistan have led to the weakening of civil institutions, resulting in the military stepping in directly or interfering with little resistance during periods of civilian rule; see Aziz, Military Control in Pakistan. The postcolonial-state hypothesis argues that states that came into being after decolonization were especially vulnerable to an imbalance between military and civil forces because militaries were derived from earlier colonial machinery. Thus the inherited overinflated military-bureaucratic oligarchy developed more autonomously than other civil institutions; see Alavi, “State in Postcolonial Societies.” The influence of the politics of the Cold War and Pakistan’s role as a client state to the United States has also been emphasized as a factor; see Ahmed, Pakistan, the Garrison State. For more on client states, see Tilly, Coercion, Capital and European States; and Wendt and Barnett, “Dependent State Formation.”
12. Massad, Colonial Effects, 8.
13. According to the notion of a garrison state laid out by Harold Lasswell in his book Essays on the Garrison State, modern industrial societies that are exposed to the constant threat of war and continual crisis create conditions in which the military establishes supremacy over the state and society through a capture of leadership. In these societies, the population becomes obedient and docile and believes that war is necessary and inevitable.
14. Saigol, Pakistan Project, 200–234; and Nayer and Salim, The Subtle Subversion.
15. See Khattak, “Gendered and Violent.”
16. Saigol, Pakistan Project, 248.
17. See Khattak, “Militarization, Masculinity and Identity”; and Babar, “Texts of War.”
18. Saigol, Pakistan Project, 250.
19. See LalaRukh, “ImageNation.”
20. Rizvi, Military, State and Society, 15.
21. Long years of military rule in Pakistan have enabled the military to develop enduring roots in the public and private sectors, in industry, business, health care, banking, agriculture, education, communication, and transport. See Rizvi, Military, State and Society, 233–39.
22. European Union Election Observation Mission, Final Report, 20.
23. Fair, Fighting to the End, 5.
24. See, for example, Rizvi, Military, State and Society; and Fair, Fighting to the End. For in-depth studies of the workings of contemporary military institutions, such as its inner mechanics vis à vis training and disciplining techniques, see Bourke, Intimate History of Killing; Ben-Ari, Mastering Soldiers; and Ware, Military Migrants.
25. Foucault, Security, Territory, Population.
26. See Yazawa, From Colonies to Commonwealth; Hunt, Family Romance, and Banti, “Deep Images.”
27. The study of affect has emerged in the last two decades as a way to theorize the social and political. The primary precursors of this interest in affect were a focus on the body, associated with feminist theory, and an interest in emotions, visible in queer studies; see Butler, Bodies That Matter; and Grosz, Volatile Bodies.
28. See Jenkins, “State Construction of Affect.”
29. Foucault, Security, Territory, Population, 87–114; and Foucault, “Subject and Power,”
30. Stoler, “Affective States,” 9.
31. Traditionally, affect is used as the broader term, referring to “states of being,” of which emotions are seen as a “manifestation or interpretation”; see Hemmings, “Invoking Affect,” 551. Affect has also been referred to psychoanalytically as a “qualitative expression of our drives, energy and variations”; see Giardini, “Public Affects,” 150. Alternatively, Silvan S. Tomkins suggests that affects are autotelic and insatiable and give depth to our lives by allowing us to narrate our lives to ourselves and others; see Tomkins, Affect Imagery Consciousness. Paul Hoggett and Simon Thompson pre sent a robust synthesis of these differences, theorizing affect and emotion as two forms of feelings that can overlap and are not mutually exclusive and yet have different connotations in which “affect concerns the more embodied, unformed and less conscious dimension of human feeling, whereas emotion concerns the feelings which are more conscious since they are more anchored in language and meaning.” Anxiety is described as an affect, “experienced in a bodily way,” while jealousy is an emotion, directed outward, giving it “meaning, focus and intentionality.” The object of anxiety may shift, making it almost arbitrary. But emotion is externally directed, embedded in language and discourse, and more fleeting or transient. Affect remains more abiding, labile, and fluid and is capable of spreading to others; see Hoggett and Thompson, Politics and the Emotions, 2–3.
32. How this disengagement is to be acknowledged has been the focus of much debate. Are these acts of protest deeply ambivalent—subversive yet complicit? See Gutmann and Lutz, Breaking Ranks. Are these actions limited by available discourses and wrapped up in power that initiates the subject? See Butler, Psychic Life of Power; and Mitchell, “Everyday Metaphors of Power.” Can they be called counterhegemonic “weapons of the weak?” See Scott, Weapons of the Weak. Or are these “safety valves” or acts that reveal the “diagnostics of power”? See Abu Lughod, “Romance of Resistance,” 42–47.
33. Theorists have suggested that affects are beyond social, prediscursive states, lying outside social signification. Some of this work sets up affective freedoms and autonomy as a way out of social determinism. See Massumi, “The Autonomy of Affect”; and Bruns, “Laughter in the Aisles.” This is a position fiercely contested by constructivist models, which see affect as externally determined, as a social and cultural practice. See Lutz and Abu Lughod, Language and the Politics of Emotion; and Ahmed, Cultural Politics of Emotion. Clara Hemmings perhaps rightly turns away from what she regards as a misplaced “theoretical celebration of affect” as a way to theorize challenges to social order. She suggests instead that affect presents itself “not as a difference, but as a central mechanism of social reproduction in the most glaring ways”; see “Invoking Affect,” 550–51. Laura Berlant has cited the tendency of affective responses to strengthen rather than challenge hegemonic power; see Queen of America. See also critical race theorists who have argued that affect plays a role in consolidating structures of power and oppression while also providing the investments needed to challenge these relations: Spivak, Outside in the Teaching Machine; and Bhabha, Location of Culture.
34. Navaro-Yashin, Make-Believe Space, 17–24.
35. Although Lacanian psychoanalysis moves away from this more exclusive connection and acknowledges that subjects are made in relation to other subjects, it still falls short, because the human self or subjectivity remains the primary site for affective energy.
36. Navaro-Yashin, Make-Believe Space, 24.